ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) - The life of Bob Martin the adventurer, pilot reporter, loving husband and friend was celebrated Saturday by those who knew him best and a community impacted by his 40-year career in journalism.
Speakers at Saturday's memorial at Desert Springs Church talked about his upbringing and his impact on those around him until his final days flying his helicopter in New Mexico. The NTSB is still investigating what caused helicopter crash that killed him on Sept. 16 near Carrizozo.
"Besides raising sheep and growing alfalfa for [Future Farmers of America], he also earned his pilot's license," Martin's brother, Scott Martin, said. "We know that not only was New Mexico in his heart and soul, but that he was part of the heart and soul of New Mexico."
Martin was considered the best at his craft, whether he was flying over the state or reporting from the front lines in Afghanistan. Most of his years in journalism were spent at KRQE, formerly KGGM.
"He was bold, he was brave, he was adventurous [and] he was constantly getting to where the action was," former KRQE anchor Dick Knipfing said. "He never tried to show off at whiz bang stuff, but it was a tool and he used those tools skillfully to make his subjects more clear... A true professional on the ground, in the air, on the air. He was the best."
"No matter who you were, you were somebody to him, just like he was to every New Mexican," Martin's former classmate, Peter Romero, said.
Saturday, the people he touched throughout his life expressed their gratitude with words, heartfelt tears and in style.
Dozens of people donned the KRQE bomber jacket dedicated to Martin for his decades of helicopter reporting.
"This was part of Bob. It signified Bob and the relationship he had with channel 13," former KRQE chief photographer Carey Olson said. "As part of the promotion [for the new KRQE helicopter] at a Christmas party, the company brought out these jackets and actually Bob and Marilyn walked out from behind the screen to model them for everybody."
"I'm proud to wear this jacket," KRQE colleague Edward Johnson said. "I guess we can kind of think of ourselves as Bob's troops."
Martin's friends said he gave up his time creatively and generously.
"He hated unkindness and he valued truth. He demonstrated in his own life the command to love your neighbor," his wife, Marilyn Painter, stated. "He poured out his life in service to others without accounting the cost and that was because the focus was never on himself."
Martin met Painter in Sept. 2000 when she started work at KRQE and they went on many traveling adventures together. They married on Oct. 10, 2010.
Painter wanted the memorial to be an upbeat celebration of Martin's life so she asked everyone to not wear black in remembrance of the happy and loving pilot.
In addition to Martin's many skills- he was a commercial helicopter and airplane pilot, licensed drone pilot and instructor, and earned an expert sport skydiver's license- he was considered by many to be a helpful teacher, like his parents who taught in Socorro. Their career move is what brought the Martins to New Mexico when Bob was a sophomore in high school.
He graduated from Socorro High School then earned a degree in Journalism at Eastern New Mexico University.
"A very compassionate man, a very loving, caring man. (He) cared for the people of New Mexico very much, cared for his coworkers. I know he mentored me in a number of ways," former editor Doug Strickland said.
"Bob demanded the best from the people who worked with him but always went out of the way to praise them, help them grow and to give them confidence," Knipfing added.
Martin is survived by his father, three brothers and his wife.