Cover photo for George H Martel, Jr.'s Obituary
George H Martel, Jr. Profile Photo
1928 George 2018

George H Martel, Jr.

December 28, 1928 — September 13, 2018

George Henry Martel, disabled American veteran and community leader, passed away in his Cleveland home at the age of 89 of lung cancer.

George Henry Martel was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on December 28, 1928.  He was one of 17 children born to Elizabeth Knoll Martel and George Henry Martel Sr.  Mr. Martel’s grandparents immigrated from a town not far from Munich, Germany. He grew up hearing German in the home and learned to speak “kids” German.  He was very proud of his German heritage and for years read German newspapers online. 

Mr. Martel’s infectious sense of humor developed during his life as a middle son in his very large family.  He told many stories of his escapades with his brother Bob.  They were the pranksters in the family and got into trouble with the Nuns at school many times, according to Mr. Martel.

Mr. Martel graduated from Lebanon, PA Catholic High School in 1947 and joined the US Army.  He served his country for three years and was honorably discharged from Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC following treatment for serious injuries resulting from a trucking accident.  As the effects  of the injury grew over the years, the US Veterans Administration officially recognized his 100 percent disability.

Mr. Martel moved to Cleveland in the late 1940’s and lived here until his death.  He married Addie Baugh in June 1950.  They were divorced in 1972.  They had five children:  Conway James, Patricia, Elizabeth, George Martel the third, and Margaret.  Mr. Martel devoted himself to raising the five children.  As the children grew, Mr. Martel was able to return to school.  He studied at Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, receiving a Bachelor of Science magna cum laude from UT in criminal justice in 1985.

Mr. Martel served as a Juvenile Counselor for the State of Tennessee and was dedicated to protecting children from abuse, assuring fair treatment in the juvenile justice system, and encouraging children to be good citizens.  He found this work very fulfilling until his retirement.  For him, service to the people of Cleveland was a high calling and brought him great satisfaction. 

In 1984 Mr. Martel and Sue Haynes Martel, a professor of psychology at CSCC, were married.  They met in one of Professor Martel’s classes.  They enjoyed traveling together in the United States and abroad, they shared an interest in local and national affairs, and celebrated when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were elected President.  They were both devoted fans of the University of Tennessee’s sports teams.  Mrs. Martel was very proud of Mr. Martel’s community service.  The two of them were bright and engaging, sharing their life together with exuberance.  They shared their lives  until Mrs. Martel’s death in 2017.  Mrs. Martel had three children from her previous marriage, Ricki, Nancy, and Will, and they and their families often shared holidays and special occasions with Mr. and Mrs. Martel. 

Mr. Martel was involved in many aspects of community life in Cleveland.  He served on the Cleveland School Board in the 1970 term and advocated for equal funding for all schools regardless of the racial makeup of the student body.  He adamantly believed in equal education and fairness to all.  He was also an avid member of the Democratic Party of Cleveland and ran for the position of Justice of the Peace as a Democrat.

 Mr. Martel was a frequent volunteer as a member of the congregation of St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, where he served on a number of church committees.  He was honored to be a member of the Knights of Columbus  and served as the Grand Knight of the Third Degree Council from 1989 to 1992.  Later he was the Faithful Navigator (President) of the Fourth Degree Assembly, the highest order of the Knights of Columbus.  In his full regalia with cape and sword George was a knight that greatly impressed his grandchildren.

Mr. Martel was also a committed member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) of Cleveland and served as Commander of the local chapter.  He was proud of his military service and sought to help disabled veterans when and wherever he could. He was honored by the DAV for “his lifetime of service to the veterans of Bradley County and the State of Tennessee.”

Following his retirement, Mr. Martel greatly enjoyed wood-working and attending crafts fairs.  He loved classical music and television programs on history.  For Mr. Martel, his God, his country, his family, and his many friends were always upper most.  His life reflected the values he lived by:  integrity, devotion to country and to his religious beliefs, love for family and friends, and dedication to making the lives of others better.

During his final illness Mr. Martel received loving, and conscientious care from his daughter Margaret, who was a skilled and tireless overseer of his health and medical care. Her daughter Nicole was her dedicated assistant.   Margaret and Nicole were also devoted caregivers for Mrs. Martel during her long and final illness.

Mr. Martel is survived by 3 of his 17 siblings and his five children, Conway James Martel of Cleveland, Patricia Keeler of Chattanooga, Elizabeth Peterson and George Martel 3rd of Cleveland, and Margaret Nemec of Ocoee and their families.  He is also survived by his three step-children Ricki Tigert Helfer of Washington, DC, Nancy M. Allen of Murfreesboro, TN, and William K. Rhodarmer of Nashville, TN and their families.   His survivors include 12 grandchildren, 3 step grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 1 step great grandchild.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church on Wednesday, September 19, 20007 at 11 AM with Father Mike Nolan presiding. Interment will be held at 2:30 PM in the Chattanooga National Cemetery with military honors.

The family will receive friends at Fike Funeral Home on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 from 5 PM to 7 PM.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the DAV of Cleveland.

We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the Martel family guestbook at fikefh.com.     



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Service Schedule

Past Services

Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church

900 Clingan Ridge Drive Northwest, Cleveland, TN 37312

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