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Published: Sunday, 3/21/2010

Builder of retail centers also known for homes

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Don J. Martin, 62, a general contractor who for more than 30 years built restaurants and shopping centers as well as fine custom homes, died Thursday in University Hospital, Cincinnati, from complications of a stroke he had three days earlier.

Mr. Martin of Manitou Beach, Mich., started a general contracting firm, now called Innsbrook General Contractors, in 1976. A specialty became developing, building, and remodeling Wendy's restaurants, and developing shopping strips - including a center on Secor Road near Executive Parkway - and office buildings.

Detail was the forte of his home business, now called Martin Custom Homes. In recent years, he and Trent Martin, his son and business partner, built homes in the Sylvania area and Monclova Township. In the 1980s, he and his family lived in Colorado and he built homes there. "The homes were where he could be creative," his son said.

Martin homes might include cathedral ceilings or hand-built curved staircases, with archways, columns, and gourmet kitchens, according to the firm's Web site.

"He was picky about how the homes were built and the paint job and the drywall they used," his brother Jeff said. "He was just that type of person. Don always wanted things to be perfect and right."

Mr. Martin aimed for originality but, most of all, to find out what customers wanted and build it.

"He'd get to know the families and know what they liked," his daughter Michelle said. "He was involved from the beginning, and he took pride in building something that could build memories.

"He knew how important it was for people to see something and be happy with it," Michelle said. "If someone had something special they liked - a style, a color - he would make it happen."

Physical fitness was part of his routine from childhood. He was a Mr. Toledo about 40 years ago and, in his 50s, bested others decades his junior in a weight-lifting competition. He was a brown belt in judo and still ran and bicycled, daughter Pamela Martin said.

He and Kathy Allen, his girlfriend for nearly a decade, enjoyed swing dancing and planned to retire in Naples, Fla. On Devils Lake, Mich., where his family had a summer place, he taught hundreds of children to water ski over the years.

Born Dec. 2, 1947, he grew up in the Old West End. He attended St. Mary's Preparatory School in Orchard Lake, Mich., and was a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Toledo. He received a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Toledo.

For several years, he was employed by Martin Brothers Container and Timber Products Corp., which his father led. He married the former Susan Muller in 1969. They divorced in 1993.

Surviving are his daughters, Michelle Martin and Pamela Martin; son, Trent Martin; mother, Mary Martin; brothers, Gary, Jeff, Kevin, Brent, and Keith Martin; sisters, Mary Albrecht, Sherry O'Dell, Diane Trautman, Deby Buerk, and Denise Martin, and a granddaughter.

Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. tomorrow in the Coyle Funeral Home. Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Rosary Cathedral.

The family suggests tributes to the American Society for Deaf Children.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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