By Douglas Martin
Douglas Martin sat at a wooden podium just inside the automatic doors of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for close to 64 years. Everyone knew him as Mr. Martin the greeter who directed patients, helped them out of their cars and pushed patient gurneys.
On the afternoon of Oct. 14, Mr. Martin’s chair sat empty, and the usual larger-than-life man had been replaced with a bouquet of roses, his favorite flower that often adorned the lapel of his uniform.
Martin, 81, died Wednesday, Oct. 13, after decades of service at the hospital.
He’s been the face of Carilion, greeting patients, greeting, and staff as they come and as they go, he was an amazing man who meant the world to everyone that ever met him. Martin started his job at Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Jan. 27, 1958, when he was just 17 years old. His younger sister, Yvonne Baskerville, said he used to walk to the hospital from their home in Vinton and it didn’t matter whether it was raining or snowing, he always showed up.
He loved his job so much that he only took one sick day in his entire career at the hospital and that was to attend his mother’s funeral. On his days off, he often came in to wash patient wheelchairs. He said he wouldn’t retire from the hospital until the Lord says so and he continued to work up until his last days.
He greeted every single person as if they were the most important person in the world and it made all the difference for people who were coming to the hospital scared, worried, or sick.
From his seat at the front door, Mr. Martin could also see the hospital’s helicopters coming in to land on the roof and whenever he saw an incoming helicopter, he would pause what he was doing and pray for the patient, family and staff involved.
He was a dedicated member and deacon at Reed Street Baptist Church in Vinton.
A public viewing was held Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, from 1 to 5 p.m. and his funeral service occurred at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, both in the Hamlar-Curtis Chapel. Interment followed in Williams Memorial Park. Condolences may be sent to www. Hamlar-Curtis.com.