Earle Martin III
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Earle Plain Martin, III
1955-2020
Earle Plain Martin III, loving husband, father, son, brother and uncle, went to be with the Lord on December 31st, 2020, at the age of 65, after battling complications from COVID-19.
He is survived by his wife, Deborah Bearden Martin; his sons Thomas Martin (fiancée Allison Trost), Daniel Martin and Grant Martin; father Earle P. Martin, Jr. (Nancy); brother Grant Martin (Rev. Paul Fromberg); sister Melinda Martin Stubbs (Samuel); nephews Andrew Stubbs, M.D. (Leigh Anna Stubbs, M.D.), Charles Stubbs, Maxwell Stubbs; niece Whitney Stubbs Newton (Mark) and grand niece Jolene Newton. He is preceded in death by his mother, Katherine Cummings Martin, and son, Earle Plain Martin IV.
Earle is remembered as an exceedingly forthcoming, honest and genuine man. He loved and provided for his family as a devoted husband and dedicated father. He loved his profession, leaving a lucrative law practice to become a successful air charter pilot. On a more practical level, Earle loved to go fast; in addition to flying his airplane, he repeatedly rode with his sons in go-karts and on roller coasters. He loved stories, constantly telling and absorbing them. He would fall asleep to classic movies and pore through books on historical figures. He shared what he learned with enthusiasm and eloquence. When Earle walked in the room, you knew exactly who he was and what he cared about.
Customers of Mid-Coast Air Charter recall Earle's attempts to be attentive, save them a buck or go the extra mile. Each year, he hand-delivered more than a hundred pecan pies for the holidays and often stayed awake into the wee hours making them fresh fruit trays before a trip. His respectful treatment of co-workers at all levels within his aviation hub at Hobby Airport garnered him a nickname: "Captain Beloved." They pinned it to a sign on his office door.
Born in Houston, TX, to Earle and Katherine on August 14, 1955, Earle III was the oldest of three children and took charge of the role at an early age. He was mature beyond his years and brilliant in his schooling, attending various schools in the Houston area growing up. Although he had only entered The Kinkaid School as a junior, he was elected class president his senior year. Earle delivered the commencement address to Kinkaid's graduating class of 1973, concluding his classmates, "have shown themselves to be people willing and able to accomplish tasks rather than watch others do so." Earle attended Vanderbilt University, serving as the treasurer of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He received his law degree from the University of Texas, where he made Law Review. It was during this time Earle developed a love of flying and got his pilot's license.
He returned to Houston in 1980 and joined Vinson & Elkins as a lawyer in the Business, Real Estate and Energy group, led by the late Rush Record. Though he loved his colleagues and worked tirelessly for the firm, Earle's dream was to be in the air. After three years at Vinson & Elkins, he made a decision that would change his life forever: He gave up his law practice and started his own private air charter. Friends and family would affectionately cheer on "Air Earle" as he laid the foundation for a three-decades-long career. It began with an obvious clientele: Lawyers who needed to travel for recruiting trips. Earle donned a suit and tie, a nod to his roots and a memorable element of the first-class service he would provide to every customer.
Before he left Vinson & Elkins, Earle met Deborah Bearden, though they could have met much sooner. Deborah — two years Earle's junior — walked the same St. John's School hallways as Earle in elementary school. If they didn't cross paths there, they almost certainly could have at Vanderbilt or Texas, both of which Deborah attended while Earle was still on campus. In 1984, they enjoyed a single date together and went their separate ways. Four years later, upon Deborah's return from living in Boston, they were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend, this time sparking a romance that led to their engagement after just eight months. The two were married in July of 1989, spending 31 years together in a loving, harmonious union.
Earle once flew Deborah to New Braunfels for a date floating the Guadalupe. His flying business, Personal Air Charter, began to grow, and in 1988, he met a fellow charter business owner, Jack Chapman. The two began to refer customers to each other until Earle joined Chapman's business, Mid-Coast Air Charter, as a co-pilot. In 1996, Chapman left the business to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot and sold Mid-Coast Air Charter to Earle. With the business came its prized possession: the airplane, a Mitsubishi MU-2. One cannot imagine a stronger relationship between pilot and plane.
Earle so believed in the MU-2's capabilities that he committed himself to its community of pilots and owners. He volunteered time and money to speak publicly to the aircraft's reputation if it came under scrutiny in the press. He single-handedly rallied the community to take industry-wide product surveys; as a result, Mitsubishi retained its number one rating for 18 years running. A colleague dubbed him "Mr. Mitsubishi" for his service to its pilots, new and long standing. Throughout his flying career, he became known for his over-emphasis on training and safety. And he never drank alcohol; only unsweet iced tea, with lemon.
Many within Earle's loyal customer base stayed with him for decades. He also had his share of special projects, flying donated organs to hospitals and injured persons attached to stretchers. He once flew the ill son of a family friend cross-country pro-bono because it would ensure the best care. And when he wasn't flying oil workers to address rig blowouts and hunters to ranches and businessmen and high-ranking officials, he took time to fly his "non-revenue" passengers: his family. Deborah, Tom, Daniel and Grant Martin would trade chances to sit in the co-pilot's seat on the way to the White House, Mt. Rushmore, Niagara Falls and so many more American landmarks. Earle prioritized one in particular: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, home of the first flight. A picture of his MU-2 in front of the Wright Brothers National Memorial still hangs in his office to this day. He simply loved to fly. And to the surprise of many, he often cruised through blue skies and cumulus clouds to one XM radio soundtrack: Broadway showtunes.
In later life, Earle took up what he called "urban hiking," walking miles to and from any and every destination that for most required a vehicle. While on work trips, he would walk to his hotel from the airport. He was once spotted outside Hebbronville, TX, by a line technician from Jet Aviation, and Earle's past kindnesses led the line tech to offer him a ride. In Houston, Earle traded his luxury sedan for a pickup truck; its primary focus became driving the family black lab, Steele, to restaurant patios to share lunches. Servers at their usual haunts knew to have a grilled chicken and water ready; not for Earle, for the dog. Earle cherished dinners spent with his family at River Oaks Country Club, before walking the three miles back home.
Earle's final days at home included a sweet memory: His son, Tom, got engaged to his fiancée, Aly, with whom Earle had quietly conducted meaningful phone calls for months. Earle saw the ring the day before his admission to Houston Methodist Hospital. He passed peacefully to the sounds of a CD playing messages from family members and songs to keep him comfortable and calm, broadway showtunes included. The grieving family takes comfort in knowing Earle lived the life he wanted to live, accomplishing so much and impacting the lives of so many. In his own words, he was "just glad to be here."
The family would like to thank the incredible doctors and nurses at Houston Methodist who gave Earle wonderful care.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Houston Food Bank, The Brookwood Community or to St. Martin's Episcopal Church.
A small family service is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, January 12, at 4:00pm CT. Guests are invited to view the services on YouTube via a live stream link that may be found on the St. Martin's website at https://stmartinsepiscopal.org/funerals.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Jan. 10, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
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44 entries
March 21, 2021
Tom, this is a beautiful tribute and I enjoyed learning more about your wonderful father. I mostly remember a very kind, steady man who was wise about parenting and appreciated all that life had to offer. We will miss seeing him occasionally at the Raven Grill or walking around town. I am so sorry for your loss, and have you, your brothers and your Mom in my heart. I hope to see your Mother soon, as we come out of this terrible time.
Lisa Cummins Cohen
Friend
March 11, 2021
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Stephanie Malo
March 11, 2021
We got to know Earle better by flying with him. He was so very kind to us and especially our son Philip, who suffers with autism. He loved to fly and make people happy. He was such a kind man and we will miss him.
Jean and Stephanie Malo
Friend
February 18, 2021
I had the great pleasure to know Earle as a kid while my late Dad was conducting research on the Martin Cummings ranch in the 70's and later by happenstance got to know him as an adult while visiting the ranch as a guest. I'll never forget driving back to camp and waving at Earle on one of his ranch power walks usually adorned in his khakis and white tennis shoes! Earle could hold a conversation about anything and make it interesting to say the least. You will be and are missed. I know heaven has one of the best pilots ever known flying around up there now and that's a thought that brings a smile to my face.
Dillon Varner
Friend
January 24, 2021
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Salek Family
January 24, 2021
One of the best men I have ever known. Flew with him over 200 times and looked at him with respect and comfort. I am still in shock and there WILL NEVER BE another Earle Martin. Professional and caring to the end. Rest In Peace Earle and thank you for all you did!

The Salek Family
Walter Salek
Friend
January 19, 2021
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. Earl will be sorely missed by all....what a remarkable man.
Robin & John Wombwell
Friend
January 17, 2021
What a lovely gentleman we have lost - Earle was unfailingly kind and loyal to friends old and new. All our love to his family.
Hobby Paul W.
Friend
January 15, 2021
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January 14, 2021
Kimberly and I are so sorry for your loss and send our deepest sympathies to you.

I vividly remember having a lengthy conversation with Earle at a wedding a short time ago. The topic of 'career switching' came up as I was at a crossroad in my career. Earle shared his story with me and offered me the encouragement to just ‘go for it’. His passion and enthusiasm about his interesting journey was remarkable.

May you always carry Earle within your hearts and may his everlasting presence uplift you.
Kimberly and Jonathan Rosen
Friend
January 13, 2021
Earle and I flew together in the mid to early 90s. He was one of the best to have along my side in the cockpit. He will surely be missed!

Robert Petmecky
Chief Pilot
Houston Texans/McNair Interest
Robert Petmecky
Coworker
January 12, 2021
A sad time. Earle was my first cousin, and a fellow pilot. He has taken off and no landing is required. Fair skies and tailwinds to you, cousin.

David Martin
David Martin
Family
January 12, 2021
Earle was such a dear friend. Our friendship started in college and grew over the years. I’m going to miss seeing my friend and catching up on his many adventures, insight, and family updates.
David and Palmira Malone
Friend
January 12, 2021
Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the Martin family. We loved his smile, genuine friendship, and the encouragement that he always provided over the years. Truly a respected aviation professional that so many of us admired. Love, Jo & Bo
Jo & Bo Giles
Friend
January 12, 2021
Dear Deborah, Tom, Daniel and Grant,
Our deepest sympathy to your family. It was a privilege to be a friend of Earles'. A man of great integrity, warmth and humor. He will be missed by all of us.
Thinking of you,
Christine, Andy, Phoebe, and Calvin Zipper
Christine and Andy Zipper
Friend
January 12, 2021
Earle’s death is a great loss to the MU-2 community. Although my personal meetings with him were at Mitsubishi's Pilots Review of Proficiency programs, those contacts and his writings told me a great deal about him. I later learned more about Earle when I began flying my wife to Sugar Land for cancer treatment at MD Anderson.

The first time we landed at Sugar Land one of the younger linemen who obviously was familiar with MU-2’s asked, “Do you know Earle Martin?” When I told him I had met Earle several times and he was highly respected in the MU-2 community, the young man immediately began telling me how Earle had mentored him when he worked for one of the FBO’s at Hobby Airport.

More insight into Earle came when we had a mechanical issue during a trip to Sugar Land. After landing it appeared our right engine had an oil leak. We had flown to Sugar Land late afternoon because my wife had an early appointment with her oncologist which would be followed by her regular chemotherapy. We planned to fly home after her treatment but it was obvious the airplane couldn’t be flown with the oil leak.

Rather than going with my wife the next morning I went to the airport to see if the oil leak could be repaired. When I got to the airport I quickly determined none of the maintenance operations could work on MU-2 engines. I contacted several people, one of whom was Earle. After Earle checked with the FBO where he based his MU-2 and learned they couldn’t help, he directed me to a company in Conroe that had a mechanic who was familiar with MU-2 engines. The mechanic drove to Sugar Land, found a cracked pressure switch, replaced it with a new one they fortunately had in stock, and we were able to fly home to Pensacola that afternoon.

We greatly appreciated Earle interrupting his day to help us as a ten hour drive in a rental car would have been very uncomfortable. While what Earle did may seem a small thing to some, it meant a great deal to us and we extend our thanks and sympathy to Earle’s family.
Roy Kinsey
Friend
January 12, 2021
The Houston Tracon Air Traffic Controllers are forever in Earle's debt. His selfless generosity of timely holiday deliveries of pies is legendary. "The Pie Guy" will always have an open flight plan in our hearts. Godspeed N644EM...
Andrew Stachowiak
Friend
January 12, 2021
It is with heavy heart that Janet and I send our most sincere condolences to Deborah and “the boys”. For many years, I had the distinct pleasure of flying, traveling and meeting for lunch with Earle. He always gave me credit for introducing him to the MU-2 when he was still with V & E and going on numerous recruiting trips to law schools. I gratefully accept that credit, for it was a boon to the MU-2 community and aviation, in general, when Earle decided to make flying a career. I will miss our frequent lunch meetings at our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Willis, where Earle would talk and I would listen. It makes me smile to think of it. We had numerous conversations about his family, his boys and, most recently, his canine buddy, Steele. In my 44 years of flying the MU-2, I consider Earle one of the most careful, professional, and skilled drivers that I encountered during my years of mentoring. Earle was a unique and extraordinary person and he will be greatly missed.
Tom Batchelor
Willis, TX
Tom Batchelor
Friend
January 12, 2021
I had a chance to fly with Earle in the mid 90s! By far the best person to be with in the cockpit! He will be missed!

Robert Petmecky
Chief Pilot
Houston Texans/McNair Interest
Coworker
January 12, 2021
The air traffic controllers union in Houston (NATCA) adopted Earle and we gave him a union jacket that he kept in the plane& We are getting the jacket back from Deborah and were going to put it up in the TRACON as a Memorial to Earle.
I met Earle through my job as an air traffic controller, he used to fly that Mitsubishi like a banshee Amazing things he could do He always saw the traffic and the airport regardless of the weather What a pleasure to work with and what a great friend he became. Really sad about the loss of this great man I just wish I would’ve gotten to know him and his family better. Rest in peace Earle you were loved and you will be missed greatly!
Ron Sorum
Friend
January 12, 2021
Deborah, Tom, Daniel and Grant
My deepest sympathy to you. Earle was a great man, such fond memories of him.
My heart is with you all
Love, Cindy Seligmann
Cindy Seligmann
Friend
January 11, 2021
I knew Earle through a relationship with MHIA. Always courteous and always, always with a smile on his face. My deepest condolences to his family. I am certain he will be missed by so many!
Lorraine P. Kaas
Coworker
January 11, 2021
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Teresa Finney
January 11, 2021
Deborah, we are thinking of you and your beautiful family at this difficult time. We will miss Earle's steady presence and kind visage in the neighborhood.
John and Catherine Rentz
Neighbor
January 11, 2021
I lost a friend and colleague, Deborah and family you lost so much more. I was fortunate to get to know Earle because of the MU-2, which he loved so much. The MU-2 community has lost great and knowledgeable advocate for the airplane. We will all miss him.

Earle may you from now on realize clear skies and tailwinds.
Ron Renz
Friend
January 11, 2021
I had the privilege of working for Earle the 3 years he was at V&E. He was a great person, and a wonderful boss. Even after he left the firm, we kept in touch and he took my husband and I flying. We went to Corpus Christi and to Mardi Gras and had so much fun with him! We left Houston in 1989 and moved back to Iowa, but I think of him quite often with great fondness. Prayers to the family!
Kathy Flaherty
Friend
January 11, 2021
God Bless you Earle.. you were a man that made friends feel at ease to be around .. I was fortunate to have known from the time our boys attend ROBS together.. later in life I’d see you at different FBO around Texas..
Larry Seligmann
Friend
January 10, 2021
Earle and I became acquainted during a Federal Aviation Administration icing certification review of the Mitsubishi MU2 aircraft. At that time, like Earle, I operated a MU2 aircraft. We soon became friends and Earle served as a mentor and industry friend. I was privileged to do work for many of Earl's customers. His customers always raved about his service and professionalism. He took incredible pride in the service he provided and his customers loved him. It was always a special time for me when we were both between flights and had time for our phone call "catch ups". Even better were the times when we did trips together. Earle was an incredible person and pilot, and it was my privilege and honor to have known him.

David L. Jones
Air Direct LLC
David Lee Jones
Friend
January 10, 2021
I had the pleasure of working with Capt. Beloved for 10 years. I will always remember his passion for flying and his unwavering faith in 644EM. Earle was a very kind and generous man. I feel blessed to have known him. RIP
Karen Darden
Friend
January 10, 2021
Earle Martin was a good and honest man, committed to his family, friends and the aviation career he chose when he left his law practice many years ago. As a colleague and friend, I fondly remember the hours and days spent with Earle talking about our business, our families and kid's and I will always remember his passion about all of those parts of his life. He was remarkably smart and hard-working and you knew he believed everything he said but he wasn't naive and did have a wonderful sense of humor about the ironies life throws at us all. You knew Earle was a special person. You knew immediately what he held dear and certainly flying was one of those things. Now Earle's spirit is certainly aloft with the angels.
Scott Sobel
Friend
January 10, 2021
I always enjoyed working with Earle. He was a meticulous and caring individual, truly one of my heros.
Eric Evan Lee
Friend
January 10, 2021
My deepest sympathies. I can't begin to express my anguish when I learned that Earle's gracious soul was taken from us by this merciless pandemic.
Greg Kanaga
Acquaintance
January 10, 2021
We are so sorry for your loss. I work for Houston Approach Control and only knew Earl as N644EM. His name around our place was “The Pie Guy” for obvious reasons. Earl has had a special place in each controllers heart due to his kindness and ability to have all “Traffic in sight and will maintain visual seperation”. Earle made an impact on this community just like he did in so many others. You will be missed.
Aaron Baccus
Friend
January 10, 2021
I am proud to have known Earl for decades. I have never known a more straightforward man. Thank you for the confidence you placed in me.
Dan Wilkerson
Coworker
January 10, 2021
Excellent Obituary for a phenomenal person.

Earle used our King Air at Gulf Coast Aviation from time to time, he would usually ride along with his clients and drive them, make catering, and assure that everything went a planned.

Earle was not only a dedicated pilot but a fine gentlemen... I loved sharing lunch with him and hearing his stories... he was such a good guy to talk to to and he had a caring warm soul... I will miss Earle.. he was a treasure of Houston Aviation.

Clinton Holmes
Chief Pilot
Gulf Coast Aviation
Clinton Holmes
Friend
January 10, 2021
I was so lucky to be guest at the Martin Ranch, for over twenty years. During that time I was blessed to have a friendship with, Earle.
Earle flew to Colorado Springs on two different occasions to fly us back down to the ranch..it was a joy to fly with Earle! He did love to fly!
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and with Earle's many friends.
Gary Paul Cummings
Friend
January 10, 2021
Unequivocally the most genuine, kindhearted man I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Earle immediately made everyone feel like he cared, and he did. I have had many laughs and shared endless flight stories with Earle. He will be dearly missed. Earle was a heck of a good pilot, and wonderful advocate for the MU2. Blue skies and tailwinds to my dear friend and friend to all, Earle Martin. You are missed, and you are loved.
Adam Wysong
Friend
January 10, 2021
Captain , you will be miss, thank you for the many memories, rest I. Peace...
Guillermo Escobar
Friend
January 10, 2021
I am going to miss my dear friend. Earle was always ready for lunch and lively banter and it was a joy to have known him. We had many conversations over kids and politics and I will definitely cherish those moments. He dearly loved his beautiful wife Deborah and his 3 boys. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.
Donna Barker
Friend
January 9, 2021
My prayers and thoughts with this family at this time.
Carmen Kamas
Acquaintance
January 9, 2021
Earle was truly a one of a kind person and pilot. I trained with Earle annually for the past 22 years and got to know the real Earle better then most. He was everything that almost every pilot I have ever met, would strive to become in an aviation career. I loved Earle like a brother and will surely miss his stories, during which you just put your feet up and got a cup of coffee, so that you could just relax in those moments.
Pat Cannon
Friend
January 9, 2021
What a beautiful tribute to such a lovely man. Alan & I send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Martin family. May he Rest In Peace, and we hope the family finds solace in their memories of him.
Love, Judy & Alan Rosen
Judy Rosen
Friend
January 9, 2021
Earle had become the closest friend I believe I had these past few years.
He was the most honest, fairest, generous person I ever had the pleasure to have known.
Earle told on several occasions that anytime he ever was involved in a deal of some kind, that it was his wish that both parties walk away with a smile. It was obvious how much he loved his family, because during our many hours we would spend riding around the ranch during his visits he always found time to speak about his outings and such with them. I’m going to miss our visits for many reasons, but mainly because he always made you feel like your story, or subject was the most important.
God Bless
Randall Methvin
Friend
January 9, 2021
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