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Memorial of trees sought for DJ Martin

By
JACKIE KOCH

When news of the passing of Martin’s Home Center owner DJ Martin reached community members last week, Tecumseh resident Anne Walker came up with an idea to connect Martin’s legacy to something that would live on in memory of him for decades to come. “Anybody who knew DJ loved him,” she said. “He was such an integral part of the community, never wanted attention paid for anything he’d done. I would just love to see something that would be permanently alive in this community to reflect him.” That something is trees.

She’d gone to the Handler Funeral Home web page to view Martin’s obituary, which suggested donations to plant a tree in his memory, but she came up with a bigger plan. She began with a group from her church, the First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh, right across Pearl Street from Martin’s Home Center. “I don’t think a day went by one of us wasn’t over there getting something for the church or a project,” she said.

She connected with Cheri Hinkleman, president of Re-Tree Tecumseh, a group of private citizens whose mission is to raise funds, plan, and execute a tree-planting program on city right-of-ways and public property to benefit of the entire city. She also got in touch with City Manager Dan Swallow. Both of them told her that they thought there would be others interested in memorial trees, “And that’s how it got started,” Walker said.

The plan is to collect donations for the trees from now until the spring, when they will be planted at a location yet to be determined. No matter where they end up, though, they will be in the downtown area, to be close to where Martin spent so much of his time. ReTree Tecumseh will coordinate with the city, the Downtown Development Authority, and the donors to select appropriate trees for the site.

The plan is to plant larger trees than the ornamental specimens Re-Tree Tecumseh has planted on the North Evans Street corridor, opting for varieties such as maple or oak trees which will cost between $150 and $200 each, according to Hinkleman. The organization has been purchasing from R&W Nursery in Morenci.

Hinkleman said the trees would be accompanied by plaques designating them as memorial trees. “Maybe if we do multiple trees we can do one sign if they were all in an area together,” she said.

Walker said the church is a creation care congregation that values taking care of the earth, so this project is right in line with their mission. “The thought was that something like this would live a long time and always be a remembrance of what DJ did in a quiet way, not one that’s out there waving banners or clanging, or a statue,” she said. “He would be embarrassed and uncomfortable with all that.”

Those interested in contributing any amount to the cause of planting a tree or trees in Martin’s memory may donate to the Re-Tree Tecumseh fund through the Lenawee Community Foundation by visiting the donation link at retreetecumseh.org and typing “DJ Martin” in the “special instructions” area, or by mailing a check to Lenawee Community Foundation, P.O. Box 142, Tecumseh, MI  49286 and writing “DJ Martin-ReTree” on the memo line of their check.  Donations qualify for federal tax deductions. “We will put all the money together and do whatever we can with all of it. We’d like to do multiple trees in a location if we could,” said Hinkleman. “We would hope to be able to plant in the spring.”

Walker wants the trees to be uplifting addition to the city, to honor Martin’s positive attitude. “All of us would like to smile and think about DJ in something that’s a living memorial to him, to help build the city he loved and dedicated most of his life to,” she said.

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