James R. Martin
October 8, 1965 – April 9, 2018
James Martin October 8, 1965 – April 9, 2018 James "Jim" Ray Martin, Jr. passed peacefully at home with his husband and son by his side after a courageous struggle with ALS on April 9, 2018. Born in Des Moine, Iowa, Jim was the oldest of three. At 4, Jim's family moved to Missouri where they lived near his grandmother and cousin. Where Jim did not receive acceptance from his parents, he found great comfort, love and compassion in his grandmother. Her guidance, wisdom, and unconditional love (and chocolate pancakes) helped shape the leader, father, and husband he would become. Jim thrived on the love and acceptance of his younger sister Lori and cousin Charlene, who respected and cherished him for being who he is. Throughout middle and high school, Jim played the trumpet in band, swam the breaststroke and back stoke on the swim team, and was a member of the chess club and debate team, where he was recognized for his debate skills. Jim didn't develop a lot of close friends over these years as his family moved several times. At 16, Jim's stepfather was assigned to the U.S. Air Base in Adana, Turkey, where Jim graduated from Incirlik American High School in 1984. Jim returned to the United States later that year landing in Bangor on Halloween wearing flip flops and shorts during snow flurries. Over the next several years, Jim would work his way through college at the University of Maine as a shoe department manager and phlebotomist in the Bangor area until he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work with High Distinction in 1992, becoming a Licensed Social Worker that same year. Jim put his degree to work as a child protective case worker with the state. In 1995, Jim changed his plans, cashed in his retirement, and he and a business partner started Interactive Marketing Group and MaineGuide.com, Maine's first home on the internet for vacation, travel and tourism. Through these college and young professional years, Jim was passionate about equality for all. The death of Charlie Howard just before he arrived in Maine had a profound impact on Jim. In 1992, as a senior project in college, Jim and two classmates pulled off the first Bangor Gay Pride event the following June, an annual event to this day that has evolved over the years into a community celebration of diversity. Jim also became actively involved in Maine Won't Discriminate in the 1990s and No on 1 and Yes on 1 campaigns to secure equal rights for gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people across Maine, serving in several local leadership capacities. Jim was known for being articulate, passionate, respectful, and a smart and educated advocate for equality. In 2006, Jim stepped away from managing Interactive Marketing Group to pursue professional poker playing, developing a passion for the game he continued to play until he could no more. For the next 8 years, Jim worked as a manager for Maine Rural Partners in Orono strengthening higher standards of living in rural Maine, and then a manager at Dave Ireland Builders, a local energy audit and weatherization company. Jim, life-long democrat, also served in the Maine State Legislature 2008-10, representing House District 18. Jim was an avid believer and practitioner of being involved in the democratic process. Jim was also very involved at the local and grassroots level over the years mentoring young activists and politicians in his work with the Penobscot County Democratic Committee. In 2004, he was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention. In 2014, Jim was approached to join the team at Community Care in Bangor as a foster home developer, where he worked until May, 2016 when the ALS made it impossible to work. For Jim, this was less of a job and more of a calling, a duty he executed with great care and consideration to the children and families. Jim spent the last 22 years of his journey with his life partner, husband, and best friend Scott. In September 2000, they had a commitment ceremony, followed by marriage in September 2013, both at the home they loved. The two traveled back to Turkey on vacation, they kept their hand in Bangor Pride over the years, and they spent much of their time enjoying each other’s company on the porch at their home in Orono. Jim loved music, nearly all types, listening every day while sitting in the sun on the back deck these past couple summers. Jim rarely missed a chance to see a performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, knowing all the words to all the songs, with a special affinity for The Time Warp. In 2011, Jim and Scott became a licensed foster home and took Nicholas into their hearts at the age of 3, adopting him in April, 2013. Building and nurturing a family of his own was an important goal and life dream for Jim. Nicholas brought joy and love into Jim’s life every day. Jim was proud and honored to be Nick’s dad, a job he took seriously and performed passionately and lovingly. Jim will be missed by all for his honor, integrity, respect for others, mentoring, friendship, and above all, love that he gave freely. He was a great human being, father, husband, and friend. Jim is predeceased by his grandmother Leona Bruce, and his father James Ray Martin Sr. Jim leaves behind his husband Scott Wilkerson and son Nicholas Martin; his mother Geneva Moore; his sister Lori Douglas of and her children Josh Treat and Branden Rivella; his brother Bruce Martin and his children Chelsea and Blake Martin; cousin Charlene Chastain; and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of a traditional service, Jim’s family, friends, and others touched by this wonderful man are invited to a celebration and memorial for Jim at his home on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Additional details will be announced on social media. Please send your tax-deductible donations in Jim’s memory to the ALS Association Northern New England Chapter at webnne.alsa.org, or EqualityMaine at equalitymaine.org, or the Maine Democratic Party at mainedems.org.
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James R. Martin
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