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Astute businessman Harold Martin dies
Harold with Claudia and Camerie Campbell.jpg

Harold Martin was a go-getter even as a child.

“We’d wander into the woods and look for good sticks,” said his sister, Juanita Martin King. “He’d get the best sticks and make them into slingshots that he sold for a nickel apiece. That was his first business at 8 years old and he never slowed down after that.”

Mr. Martin would go on to become one of the most successful businessmen in McMinnville, dabbling in everything from cars to real estate, before passing away Saturday after a short illness. He was 85.

Mr. Martin was the youngest of 10 children, born six years after his brother Sam, who was the ninth child. The family moved from the Plainville community to Centertown when Harold was just 4 and he helped around the 600-acre farm that extended to the Cannon County line.

He spent about a decade roofing for Harold Templeton before deciding to go out on his own. Dick King sold him his first large tract of property located behind what is now Gondola. King had to convince the bank to loan Mr. Martin the money by saying he would buy back the land himself if Mr. Martin couldn’t pay.

He started building apartments and houses in the area that’s now known as Skyline, the start of a blossoming real estate career. Mr. Martin was also successful selling cars and operated U.S. Auto Sales by the mall for decades.

“He was up at 4 a.m. every morning,” said his sister Juanita. “He wasn’t one to stay in bed. He’d make money and put it toward something else. That’s the way he was.”

Mr. Martin was diverse in his business ventures, his sister said, even opening a honky tonk on Sparta Highway that he later converted into a sales yard for heavy equipment when the nightspot closed.

“He had a huge calendar on his desk that he used to keep up with everybody’s birthday,” said Juanita. “Family meant a lot to him. He liked to fish on the lake and he also liked car races. He had a number of hobbies, but he didn’t like golf."