The community of Minden lost "one of its great icons and spiritual leaders" with the passing of Dr. Benjamin F. Martin this week.
Dr. Martin was called into the gospel ministry in 1944 after serving as a vocational teacher, high school principal, Farm Security Administrator and County Agent. He began serving as a pastor in Homer in 1945.
He retired after serving 55 years as pastor with 46 of those years spent at Saint Rest Baptist Church, Minden. He later served as lecturer, teacher, evangelist and interim pastor.
Fellow minister, The Rev. Bill Ichter, said he was honored to speak of the memory of Dr. Martin.
"I think he was one of the great icons of this community, a wonderful man, a great spiritual leader and a great friend of all people," said Ichter.
"He was a man, who in many ways, along with Dr. Prince (who was a very close friend) was instrumental in helping this community get through the difficult days of desegregation. A man who never saw color, and a man whom I personally will miss," Ichter continued.
Dr. Martin, the son of Joseph and Adrian Martin, was a family man.
He was the husband of the late Hilda Martin and the father of six children, 24 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
The Rev. B.J. (Ben) Martin, who followed in his father's footsteps to become the senior pastor of St. Rest Baptist Church, said the clearest picture of who his father was is depicted in the lives of his children.
"My oldest sister is a retired social worker, my younger sister is no longer in social work and is now a Presbyterian minister and my younger brother is pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia and is sometimes referred to as the unofficial mayor of Augusta," Martin said.
Ben Martin, who also has a brother that is the pastor of Trenton Baptist Church in West Monroe, continued, "So all of those children are involved in social ministry, really, and I think that speaks to the legacy of both my mother and my father," he said. "And to me, that says about as much as anything else could say."
Ben Martin, who has been senior pastor of Saint Rest for the past 13 years, is also heavily involved in extra service to the community of Minden.
Love and mentorship were thoughts that came to mind for the Rev. Robert Whitaker, pastor of Victory Praise and Worship Center, when considering the late Dr. Martin.
"He was someone who embraced me. He openly embraced my family when we got here in '92," Whitaker said. "I learned a lot from him and he was somebody that allowed me to love him and he loved me. And every minister needs a pastor that loves him. He will be missed."
The Rev. Ichter echoed that thought. "He was in many ways a mentor, an example to any young man, any young preacher who wants to minister having him an exemplary figure."
Dr. Martin's children are Barbara Chandler, Veronica Thomas, Kenneth Martin, Lawrence Martin, Nadine Fitzpatrick and Benjamin Martin.