Steven Wayne Martin, 71, of Paso Robles, CA, passed away following a hard-fought battle with cancer on August 14th, 2023, with his wife of 50 years, Jennifer, by his side.
Steve was preceded in death by his parents, James Gilbert and Frances Louise Martin, and brother, Gregory Allen Martin.
Steve is survived by his beloved wife, Jennifer; daughters and sons-in-law Nora and Todd Roy and Jamie Martin and Paul Cross; grandchildren Abigail, Steven, Malcolm, and Caleb; and sisters Jana Nichols, Julie Rogers, Tina Walker, and Gina Hobbs. Further, his memory is celebrated, and his absence is mourned by his friends and former General Assembly band-mates Gere Sibbach, Ken Reif, Darin Alvord, Tim Alvord, and Larry Baer, who collectively previously lost their brother in music and fellow midwestern adventurer Andy Harrington.
Steve was born December 2nd, 1951, in Mexico, MO. At the age of two, his family moved to Atascadero, CA, where he was a clarinet-playing member of the Greyhound marching band. He often proudly recounted the story of how they once played at halftime during a Los Angeles Rams football game and came in second place in a competition to play at halftime in Super Bowl I. His lifelong love of music fueled the composition of countless songs, a large collection of musical instruments, and two additional generations of marching band members.
Following the wanderlust of young adulthood, Steve and the members of the General Assembly headed to the shores of Eagle River, WI, in the summer of 1970, seeking musical adventure. It was that summer that Steve met Jennifer and won her over on the shuffleboard court. The band would return to share their musical talents with Burlington, WI, the following summer. Three years after first meeting, under a large redwood tree in Shandon Park, and accompanied by the sounds of The Moody Blues, Steve and Jennifer were married. They celebrated with strawberry shortcake and, nine years later, christened their daughter Nora under that same tree. Four and a half years later, Steve and Jennifer welcomed their second daughter, Jamie, into the world. Steve lived for his wife and daughters and ensured that everyone he met knew the pride and love he held for them.
Steve was a wordsmith. He wrote prolifically over the years under the name S.W. Martin so as not to be confused with the well-known actor. His plays were produced locally, both by the San Luis Little Theater and Paso Robles High School, including the titles When Forever Ends, The Last Talk Show, Halfway to Paradise, Karma! The Cosmic Credit Card, Encounter At Bowleg Junction, Educating Cheetah, and the unproduced POW. He also authored the historic non-fiction book Atascadero, the fiction novels 39: 100111 and Watermelon Dreams, the autobiographical novel The High Road, and a collection of poems, Perpendicular | At Write Angles to Myself.
Steve was a Christian. He often stepped in when asked to deliver sermons at church and never failed to remind his daughters of the importance of remembering their maker. He saw grace in imperfection and loved purely and compassionately. That mindset drove his acts of public servitude.
Steve spent his adult life in Paso Robles, serving on numerous boards and commissions over the years and taking great pride in his ability to serve the community that he called home. Over time, Steve served as an award-winning News Director for KPRL, Co-Owner and Managing Editor of Paso Robles’ Country Press, and resigned on behalf of journalistic ethics from the Atascadero Gazette. At the age of 35, he entered the public circle, winning his first bid for Paso Robles City Council. Shortly after, he was appointed mayor by his peers. Steve would go on to serve a combined total of 20 years on the council as a council member or mayor. His recent efforts to establish a spaceport in Paso Robles were among his proudest accomplishments.
It is impossible to constrain Steve’s legacy to a short collection of words. Steve loved deeply and unconditionally, served joyously, and strove to learn one new thing every day, knowing that each small step contributes to a much larger journey. In true theater fashion, Steve left this earthly stage leaving us wanting more; he had so much more to say.
A public memorial for Steve will be hosted by the City of Paso Robles at the Downtown City Park at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023. The public’s presence is welcome and appreciated. Remember to stay informed, stay involved, and stay strong, Paso Robles.