Long time Grants Pass resident and automobile dealer, Henry C. Martin, 86, passed peacefully at home on October 7, 2021, with Robin, his loving wife by his side. His last years were complicated by Parkinson’s and dementia.
Henry was born September 30, 1935, in Glendale, CA, to Robert C. Martin and Grace Westphal Martin. He grew up in Grants Pass with his two younger sisters, Bernie and Sharon.
After attending the University of Oregon and Mexico City College, he enlisted in the US Army. He was assigned to the US Army Security Agency, and sent to Monterey, CA, to study Korean for 47 weeks. During his stint in Korea, he eagerly embraced the Korean people and culture and for the rest of his life would speak Korean at every opportunity. Upon his return from Korea, he served with the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, and completed his Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.
In 1962, he accepted his father’s invitation to join the family business, Robert C. Martin Studebaker and Mercedes Benz, on a one-year trial. He soon decided to stay, saying, “Business became so much fun that I just couldn’t stop.” His time in Asia prompted him to convince his dad to become a Datsun dealer; they added Volvo three years later. He quickly sold his first Datsun pickup and that pickup would be sold and traded back three times (the last time with bullet holes in the grill!), before Henry finally decided to keep and restore it in 1981.
Five months after returning to his hometown, Henry walked across the street to Byrd’s Market lunch counter. Robin Wampler spotted the handsome young man looking for an empty seat, and quickly moved her purse off of the adjacent stool. She was about to meet one of the most eligible bachelors in town. He gave her his card. She flipped it over and it read only “My Card.” That’s how she learned that he was the real ‘card.’ They were married on November 28, 1964, and were later blessed with two children, Heidi and Brent.
Henry and Robin recommitted their lives to Christ in 1975, joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and began looking for ways to share their new found faith within their personal and professional lives. They delighted in taking the family on short-term mission trips with Maranatha International to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Belize, and India, to help build churches and schools. Henry supported the development of Country Life Vegetarian Restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, Osaka, London, and Paris. He taught his children to love and embrace all cultures and peoples around the
In 1977, Henry’s dealership, now Auto Martin, began Mercedes European delivery tours. After taking delivery of their Mercedes at the factory in Stuttgart, the customers were led on a driving tour of Martin Luther historical sites throughout Europe, organized and led by Henry and Robin. Henry enjoyed introducing people to new experiences and becoming their friends. He felt at ease whether dining with a member of the British royal family or serving hot soup to the homeless in New York City. Henry also loved engaging with his community, organizing bike races and coloring contests for children. He once advertised on every large billboard in Grants Pass, challenging kids in the community to find them all, awarding a $25 savings bond for
each accurate count. Henry was president of the Grants Pass Knife and Fork Club, and was instrumental in bringing Ronald Reagan to speak, just before he announced his candidacy for President of the United States.
In 1985, Henry attended the NEWSTART® Lifestyle program at Weimar Institute, a health reconditioning center, college and academy in California, to help manage his hypertension. Thereafter he adopted a health-conscious lifestyle, and an entirely plant-based diet. His motto was “Walk! Walk! Walk!” The family received an invitation in 1988 to spend a year working with the Paris, France, Country Life Restaurant, mission training center, and organic farm. This prompted Henry and Robin to sell Auto Martin to the Jim Sigel family and begin a new chapter in their lives. They soon packed and moved into the gate house of an old hunting lodge, 50 miles out of Paris, where Napoleon hunted boars.
Upon returning from France, the Martins were invited to Weimar Institute, where they then lived and served for 14 years. Henry began as Assistant to the President. He then developed a three-day physician-led Reversing Diabetes & Obesity Seminar, and coordinated and ran these seminars for 10 years. The seminars were taught in Christian conference centers from coast to coast, including Hawaii, Canada, Grand Cayman Island, the Billy Graham Conference Center in North Carolina, Wheaton College in Illinois, and Arrowhead Springs Conference Center in San Bernardino, CA. They impacted the lives of over 4,500 people, sharing the healing power of healthy diet, exercise, and faith.
After 15 years away from the Rogue Valley, the Martins were delighted to move back to their hometown in 2004. Henry joined the staff of Better Life Broadcasting Network as a host of “Better Life Today,” conducting over 190 interviews. He was an electrifying interviewer, effortlessly drawing stories out of his guests. For nearly a decade, Henry also organized the annual Fountainview Academy Christmas concerts at the Grants Pass SDA Church with Evergreen Federal Bank.
Henry dedicated the last 36 years of his life to looking for ways to improve the lives of others. He published booklets and gave
lectures on many topics, including improving church guest relations, Christian business principles, "Ancient Diet Promotes Health" and "How to Get a Job." He never turned down an opportunity to speak publicly, and was invited to lecture in churches, schools and ministries around the world.
Above all, Henry loved sharing his faith in Jesus, spending time with his family, traveling and exploring, working on his property, and inviting people to share a meal. His international guests were often greeted by Henry in their native language and were delighted to see their country’s flag displayed in his home. Henry had friends on every continent. When asked how he was doing, Henry would always respond, “I'm blessed.” He never lost his wry smile and his great sense of humor. Even as words were failing him in his last days, he was cracking jokes and bringing laughter to those around him. Henry has
invited friends to meet him at the northwest corner of the Tree of Life in Heaven, and he hopes to meet you there, too!
Survivors include his wife, Robin Martin; sisters, Bernie Martin Beck and Sharon Martin, both of Grants Pass; children, Heidi (Marcel) Wiggers of Grants Pass, and Brent (Rose) Martin of San Francisco; and five grandchildren, Marcus, Alexander, Emma, Graeme and Eden, all of whom he treasured and dearly loved.
He was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Grace Martin (d-1972); and grandson, Hans Wiggers (d-2007).
Everyone is invited to attend a celebration of Henry Martin’s life on Saturday, January 1, 2022, at 3 p.m. in the Grants Pass Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1360 NE 9th Street, Grants Pass. For those wishing to attend virtually, you can view the live stream at grantspasschurch.com.
The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to: Maranatha Volunteers International,
www.maranatha.org or Better Life Broadcasting Network, www.betterlifetv.tv.