SAMUEL EZEKIEL MARTIN
“My Champion and my Cheerleader”
Samuel Ezekiel Martin—a devoted husband and father who left his children a legacy of resilience, optimism, and limitless self-worth—passed away at home in Stone Mountain, GA, on February 15, 2021, his family at his side. He was 82.
Shawn Martin (shown at left with her dad in 2019), may have expressed best what her father meant to all four children:
“For me, he was my Champion and my Cheerleader,” Shawn said. “He believed there was nothing I couldn’t do, and he always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. He taught me how to dream and dream big. He also gave me an appreciation for the finer things in life.”
The youngest of three children, Samuel was born April 26, 1938, to Maude and Joseph Martin, in Content, Adelphi, Jamaica. Although the Martin marriage didn’t last, Maude later wed Norman Plummer.
He loved to dance
True to character, Samuel had nothing but admirable things to say about both his biological father (“a good man”) and his stepfather (“amazing and kind”), who raised him. But he especially loved and admired his mother and often quoted her in terms of the lessons she taught him.
Growing up, Samuel, known as Martin in Jamaica, loved to dance, play cricket, and watch boxing. At age 12, he became fascinated with antique furniture and taught himself how to make reproductions. For a man who valued education above material wealth, he was largely self-taught, a voracious reader, who became the youngest manager at Sharpe Construction in Montego Bay, hired because he had learned to read blueprints. Seeking knowledge became a hallmark of Samuel’s life. (Samuel, at 30, in Jamaica at right.)
At 5-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he had broad shoulders and gave the impression of someone much taller. Strong both mentally and physically, he was a sharp dresser and would later tell his children how he stood out at dances as a young man for his dancing skills and fashionable wardrobe.
In his late 20s, Samuel launched his own furniture manufacturing company, Samuel Martin & Associates, one of the biggest furniture companies in Jamaica. He even found time to manage a band, Heat Inc., and they released one song, a cover of “Up on the Roof,” originally recorded by The Drifters.
The love of his life, Dellie
In 1962, Samuel met the love of his life, Cynthia Delores Martin, whom he called Dellie. They soon married and the lights of Samuel’s existence arrived: Floyd, Patrick, Thausha, and Shawn. Thus ended the antics of The Dirty Four, of which Samuel was the founding member, a group of young, single businessmen out to have a good time.
Son Patrick recalls his dad as “a man of many talents, a master wood craftsman, psychologist” able size people up in a heartbeat, and “great at math, which he used to his advantage when designing and making furniture.” (The family at Patrick’s wedding in 2000 below.)
But his children were his pride and joy. “He considered himself fulfilled when he spoke about us, our accomplishments,” daughter Thausha said. (Dad and Thausha at right below, in 2019.)
He was also “extremely obsessed” with education, Shawn said. “He would often say it was better than someone handing you a million dollars. A lot of what I do in life I do with him in mind or because of his advice. He anchored me.”
In the early 1980s, the family made the big move to the U.S., and Samuel—or Sammie as he was called here—launched another furniture-making company, European Custom Furniture, in Atlanta, GA. (Son Floyd Martin at left.)
All holidays were celebrated with as much of the family as possible, usually with Samuel, Dellie, Shawn, Patrick, his wife BJ, and granddaughter, Alandra.
“He loved me so much”
“We had a great relationship,” Alandra said. “He took me to ballet every week, and we had a lot of time to get to know each other. He was such a calm and sweet person … and would go to any lengths to make me happy because he loved me so much.”
Sammie adored regaling everyone with stories about his early days in Jamaica, how he learned to make furniture as a boy, how his mom was totally oblivious, how in-demand his work became, even by international companies. (Alandra shown right.)
But Dellie, his beloved wife, was Sammie’s life partner in every sense of the word. They were confidantes. If you stopped by their home, you would often find them deep in conversation. And if any of the kids were concerned about what their dad thought about something, Dellie would supply the answers. Both were intensely family oriented. When Shawn thinks of them together, she said, “I think of the good food and laughs we had as a family.”
“As he dealt with all experiences in life,” Thausha said, “Samuel Martin managed his illness with strength and grace and wanted to spend as much time with his loved ones as possible. On his final day, he was surrounded by his family, who he adored more than anything else in the world.”
(Dellie and Samuel at right.)
Predeceased by his parents, Samuel is survived by his wife, Cynthia Dellie Martin, daughters Shawn Martin of Georgia and Thausha Martin of Jamaica, son Patrick Martin (Bettina Martin), granddaughter Alandra, son Floyd Martin, all of GA; brother Donald Martin of Canada, and sisters Beverley Martin and Sissy Martin, both of New York, and Ida Martin of England. Also, nieces Laverne Martin, Barbara Martin, Charmaine Martin and Antoinette Martin, and nephew Dean Martin.