ASHLAND – If ever there were a man whose life’s work ought to be memorialized at the Ashland Family YMCA, it was Stuart Martin Sr. At least that was the thinking of Jack Miller, who recently commissioned a plaque in Martin’s memory and arranged for the plaque to be hung at the YMCA.
Known around town as “Stu,” Martin came to Ashland in 1919 to serve as Physical Director and Boys Work Secretary at the YMCA. But Stu’s work was not just his job. It was his calling.
For 40 years, Stu taught basketball fundamentals to hundreds of boys and organized and directed church league and industrial league basketball at the Y. He also served as a referee in the Ashland County League.
And he didn’t stop at basketball. Stu also taught volleyball and handball. He taught firearms safety and started the Y Junior Rifle Club. He taught swimming and lifesaving, not only at the Y but also at Camp Nelson Dodd, Brookside Pond and Brookside Pool.
Stu taught many local youth to play tennis at the old Myers Field tennis courts, which he was instrumental in getting constructed. The courts were demolished to make way for the YMCA’s current building.
Stu also started the “Y” Industrial Softball League, where teams from Faultless, Myers, Garber and Malleable battled it out.
Stu died in 1962 and was inducted into the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
Miller, a mentee of Stu’s and a longtime supporter of the Ashland YMCA, wanted to make sure Martin’s legacy would live on at the Y, where Stu touched so many lives. Miller paid for the plaque and presented it to Ashland YMCA CEO Molly Riley, who said she will be pleased to hang it in Stu’s honor.
“Stuart Martin really exemplified the Y’s mission,” Riley said. “He saw the power of recreational activities to transform lives and build community, and he was devoted to the youth of this community.”