Bruce Anthony Martin
January 18, 1931 – October 31, 2023
“The nicest guy I ever met.” “The kindest man I ever knew.” These were common comments made by friends and family about Bruce A. Martin, 92, who transitioned peacefully to Heaven on Tuesday, October 31st in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, his home of half a century. Bruce was born less than an hour to the southeast, in Gramercy, Louisiana to Jacob and Leonia Roussel Martin where he grew up happily while working hard amidst his four brothers, three sisters and parents on their family farm. The Martins have traced their roots back through the centuries to Bourgueil, France, in the late 1500s. In 1632, his ancestor sailed with his family on the ship Esperance-in-Dieu (“Hope in God”) across the Atlantic to Acadia (now Nova Scotia), and ultimately settled along Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana in 1785. All 8 Martin children were born and raised in a modest home in Gramercy on what is now Jacob Martin Road in St. James Parish, and many dozens of Martin relatives still live there today. Bruce is preceded in death by his brothers Gordon, Milton and Willy, and his sisters, Florence and Marie. He is survived by Jake Jr. and Teresa McCann.
After graduating near the top of his class at Lutcher High School in 1948, Bruce was the first of his Cajun clan to leave the farm and attend Louisiana State University on an American Legion scholarship and was active in ROTC. He majored in Chemical Engineering at LSU where he excelled, becoming a leader in Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, and setting the curve in his Calculus class.
After honorably serving his country in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War, Bruce accepted a position with Exxon Corporation (then Humble Oil) in Baytown, Texas. It was here that he met the love of his life, Wynona, who was also working at Exxon in Human Resources, and whom he adored completely until his final breath became air. (And after 67 years of marriage, he is no doubt saving her a warm place on his heavenly sofa, patiently awaiting her arrival.) Bruce was nothing if not loyal; to his family, friends, colleagues and causes. He remained employed at Exxon for 42 years, moving to Northern California in the 1960’s to start-up a new refinery in Benicia, and ultimately becoming Safety Director of the Baton Rouge Refinery where he set multiple safety records, receiving the President’s Safety Award many times before his retirement. He then went on to serve as President of the Fleur de Lis Club, an organization of Exxon retirees. Bruce was also an active, long-time leader in his local Kiwanis Clubs in Texas, California, and Louisiana, serving his community wherever he lived, and serving as President and Lieutenant Governor of the organization.
Bruce is survived by his loving wife, Wynona and their three daughters. Rebecca (& Marcus) Shore live in Charlotte, North Carolina, have 2 grown children, Lily (& Bobby) Rosene and Wyatt Rosene, and son, Bobby Shore. Melissa (& Pat) Dowd live in Denham Springs and have 2 grown daughters, Sophie Dowd and Abbie Dowd. Jennifer (& Jim) Chaffin live in Woodville, Mississippi and have 3 grown children, James (& Catherine) Chaffin and their 2 children, Lucas and Camilla, Marisa (& Kris) Vaughn and their daughter, Savannah, and Jennifer (& Lane) Ivy and their son, CJ and daughter, Emily. All seven of Bruce’s grandchildren and his five great grandchildren adored their sweet, beloved paw-paw and he loved them back with his wonderful big bear hugs!
After retirement, Bruce continued to love Wynona’s good cooking, golfing with friends, couples’ bridge card games, his long-time supper club, and lunching regularly with his fellow Exxon “lumpers.” He and Wynona travelled widely in his later years, retracing his family’s roots in Nova Scotia, and travelling to France to be sure he still remembered his French (he did!). Bruce was also a life-long LSU Tiger fan and shared that love with his family as well. His three daughters and two of his three sons-in-law attended LSU and all 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren regularly don the purple and gold to cheer enthusiastically for the Tigers in any sport or contest of any kind. Several plaques and bricks around campus in Baton Rouge bear his and Wynona’s name, evidence of his generosity to all-things-LSU.
In addition to the opening comments that were so typical of all those whose lives Bruce touched, nobody ever saw him angry or heard him complain about anything ever in his 92 beautiful years of life (other than perhaps an Alabama coach or vision-impaired referee). Bruce was a strong and gentle trunk to our cherished Martin family tree who was deeply, deeply loved and admired and who will be missed beyond measure. He loved his family so very much and he also loved God the father, son Jesus, and his Holy Spirit. He and Wynona have been members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge for over 50 years, where he ushered regularly and served on the vestry multiple years. In every respect and in every aspect of his long beautiful life, Bruce was an inspiration and we are all blessed to know Bruce. May he rest in peace.
Visitation will take place at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 8833 Goodwood Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806, on Saturday, November 4, 2023 from 12:00 pm until service begins at 2:00 pm. Burial will follow at Resthaven Gardens of Memory 11817 Jefferson Hwy, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70816.