Ralph W. Martin, Jr.
A native of Albertville, Martin was born just before the Great Depression. At age 16, he and his family moved to the Wilcox County community of Catherine, an area characterized by extreme economic hardship, single-crop subsistence farming and lack of access to electrical power. As rural electrification came to the area, there was a renewed spirit among the people to work together to make things better. Martin remembered the great event when the lights came on, an experience that made him a true believer in the power of cooperation.
Martin attended Auburn University, but after one year returned to help on the family farm. His own farming operation, which began with beef cattle, later expanded to include soybeans and timber. In 1990, Martin transitioned to aquaculture. Martin earned the respect of many for his political and civic contributions. He loved agriculture and dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of making his profession better for himself, his family and others who shared his passion.
An avid pilot with more than 15,000 hours of flight time, Martin spent 20 years as an aerial applicator and was a charter member of the Flying Farmers.
Martin served on the board of Alabama Farmers Cooperative from its foundation in 1974 until his death in 2006, serving two terms as chairman of the board. He was also chairman of the board of SouthFresh Aquaculture in Oxford, Miss., founding member and past president of the Alabama Soybeans Association and member of the Wilcox County Cattlemen’s Association. In 1972, Martin was elected to the Camden National Bank board of directors and continued to serve in that position for 34 years.
Martin was very serious about agriculture. Any ag-related issue on which Martin took a position immediately gained credibility because he was a man of high integrity. Rather than consider the political side of an issue, he worked for the good of all in the industry.
Ralph Martin, who died in 2006, was predeceased by his wife, Olivia. They had four children—Bitsy, Carla, Mary (deceased) and Ralph W. III—and two grandchildren,Winfred and McArthur.