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Published: Saturday, 12/2/2006

Minister spent 20 years as pastor in Perrysburg

The Rev. Ronald D. Martell, 80, who in 20 years as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Perrysburg emphasized pastoral care, died Wednesday in St. Luke's Hospital after a heart attack.

He had congestive heart failure, his wife, Janet, said. He had heart bypass surgery in 1984 and 1991.

Mr. Martell, of Perrysburg, retired in 1991 after 20 years at First Presbyterian. He was versed in church administration. He'd been an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Elkhart, Ind., for 15 years, and he had a business degree.

Still, "his best was always in his contact with people. It was his pastoral care," his wife said.

His son Dan added: "He had an enormous amount of empathy for other people and cared deeply about the people in his ministry and in his church."

Mr. Martell spent time visiting hospital patients and people who were homebound. He also stayed in touch with the community, from farmers to business people, through an informal coffee group that met regularly at Broske's restaurant in Perrysburg.

"Everyone called him 'the Rev,'•" his son said.

He was a member of the Maumee Valley Presbytery and served on synod committees. He was a member of the ethics committee at St. Luke's Hospital.

Mr. Martell grew up in Green Bay, Wis., and was a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois.

He was in the Army stateside at the end of the Korean War. He received a master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

"He had so many questions that he wanted to go to seminary to see if he could find the answers," his wife said. "He didn't necessarily think he would go into the ministry as his profession."

Instead he found more answers - and the ministry.

"He always called himself a reluctant prophet," his wife said. "The Lord pulled him right in. He was unusual clergy because he was so down to earth and had a wonderful sense of humor."

Surviving are his wife, Janet, whom he married Dec. 29, 1971; sons, Daniel and Paul Martell; daughter, Laura Boinske, and four grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Dec. 9 in First Presbyterian Church, Perrysburg. Arrangements are by the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church; Doctors Without Borders, or Friends of the Wood County Parks.

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