Martin Elmer Getty, 63, of Decatur, passed away at 3:26 pm on Wednesday, February 26 at his home.
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Martin was born to the late Elmer George and Angeline (Zalfini) Getty on June 13, 1950 in Pittsburgh, PA. Martin married Lorraine (Callender) Romesser on July 28, 1978 in Urbana, IL. She survives. His children – son Joshua Paul Getty (wife deRicci) of Bethel Park, PA, daughters Emily Lynn Getty of Decatur and Jennifer Ellen Getty of Denver, CO – also survive. Others left to cherish Martin's memory include his sister Sandra Lee Marquette (husband William) of Pittsburgh, PA; uncle Albert Fiore Zalfini of St. Petersburg, FL; numerous cousins, nieces, nephews; and loving in-laws.
He was preceded in death by his parents and grandfather, Gaspare Zalfini, who at the age of nineteen immigrated to the United States from Calabria, Italy, on his own and with nothing but the dream of a better life. Martin was proud of his Italian heritage and admired the example set forth by his grandfather – establishing a foothold in a new country, learning a new language, serving in the United States armed forces during World War I, and earning American citizenship through determination and study.
Martin graduated from West Mifflin South High School in Pittsburgh and received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Mathematics and a Master's Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Pittsburgh. He later earned the Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from the University of Illinois and the endorsement of Chief School Business Official through Western Illinois University.
Service to country was important to Martin. Upon completion of the ROTC program during his undergraduate studies, he earned the Distinguished Military Graduate Award. He subsequently served for nine years as an officer in the Army Reserves, stationed in Terre Haute, IN, rising to the rank of Major.
Martin valued the importance of education and enjoyed helping people. These interests guided his career path into the arena of public schools throughout the state of Illinois, where he held varying positions: math and business teacher at Franklin Junior High in Champaign (1973 - 1977); Principal and Coach of girls' track and basketball of Scottland Junior High/Chrisman Grade School (1977-1983); Superintendent of Palestine School District (1983-1987), Lewistown Community High School District (1987-1990) and Watseka School District (1990-2000). In 2000 Martin was named Director of Business Affairs and Treasurer for Decatur Public Schools, the position in which he served until his retirement in 2007. He later served briefly as interim Business Director for the Normal School District. Although most of his career was spent as an administrator, he considered himself a teacher first. His personal goal was to help educate children by providing the framework from which his fellow teachers could succeed in the classroom, while supporting the efforts of all other staff members and community partners in the process.
Through the course of his professional life, Martin sought new challenges and never stopped furthering his knowledge. He maintained memberships in several professional organizations, including: Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, University of Illinois Educational Administration Alumni Association, and Phi Delta Kappa. In addition, he participated in the local service organizations active in the various communities in which he resided: Rotary, Lions Club, Jaycees, Kiwanis, and the Watseka Chamber of Commerce. Martin was a member of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Decatur, most recently serving on the church's Finance Committee.
Martin – Marty to many friends – enjoyed traveling, playing golf and poker, and spending time with friends and family. Always a Steelers fan, he also closely followed collegiate sports, especially the Fighting Illini and Pitt Panthers. His knowledge of classic rock music history was unparalleled, and although he would be the first to admit he was no artist, he could sketch a perfect likeness of Fred Flintstone. He will be remembered for his easy-going nature and warm sense of humor. He was also a man of principles, a good listener, a mentor, a friend's friend, a first-rate Trivial Pursuit partner, a loving husband and caring father.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff of Cancer Care Specialists of Decatur and to hospice nurses Angie and Diane for the care he received during the past year.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, March 3, 2014 at Graceland/Fairlawn Funeral Home, 2091 North Oakland Ave., Decatur, IL. Services to celebrate Martin's life will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 4, 2014 in the chapel at the funeral home. The family will receive visitors an hour preceding the service. Private family entombment will be in Graceland Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the charity or school district foundation of the giver's choice. View the online obituary and share condolences and memories of Martin at forevermissed.com.
The family of Martin Elmer Getty is being served by the Graceland/Fairlawn Funeral Home, 2091 N. Oakland Ave. Decatur, IL. Please view the online obituary, send condolences, and share memories at www.gracelandfairlawn.com.
Graceland/Fairlawn Funeral Home
2091 North Oakland Avenue
Decatur, IL 62526
Published in Times Republic on Feb. 28, 2014