Wellsville, NY - Walter “Mickey” Martelle, who appreciated – and told – a good story, reached the end of his own on Thursday, July 9, 2015, following a lengthy illness and just weeks after his 80th birthday.
A native of Portland, Maine, Mickey liked to boast of having been “the best third baseman Cheverus High School ever had,” a claim offered without evidence, but with firm conviction. The son of a newspaperman (Walter E. Martelle) and a kindergarten teacher (Geraldine Carlson Martelle), Mickey worked as a linotype operator and then a reporter for the Portland Press Herald and, after moving his young family to Wellsville in 1965, as managing editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter.
By 1968, Mickey was working as community relations director for the Air Preheater Co. In later years, he ran the Right Now Printing shop on North Main Street, and was executive director of the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency. An active Republican, he served as a Wellsville town justice of the peace and through his political and communications work, Mickey was key to the creation of the Wellsville Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the Wellsville Municipal Airport, and directed numerous economic development projects that created or saved scores of private-sector jobs across the county.
An avid gardener, Mickey co-founded the Saturday Morning Garden Club, which created and, for a time, operated the now-defunct Community Gardens on Chamberlain Street. He also organized the short-lived Gabby Hayes Days celebration in Wellsville and founded and directed the Wellsville Performing Arts Committee, which brought to Wellsville such major talents as singer William Warfield, the Romero Guitar Quartet, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and a wide range of jazz performers. He also was a longtime member of the Wee Players theater troupe in Alfred, and regularly delivered his “world-famous lobster talk” before local civic groups.
In a long life of hobbies, Mickey raced dirt-track stock cars, was a trained lifeguard, played tennis, hunted (rarely with success), and occasionally cooked (with slightly more success – ask one of his children about the time he barbecued chicken until it was charred to the bone). An avid ship modeler, Mickey served with great pride as a director of the Nautical Research Guild, through which he organized annual conferences around the country. In his retirement, Mickey decided to satisfy a lifelong interest in the drums, which he played with more vigor than skill and to the strained amusement of his wife, Dorothy, who, unlike Mickey, does indeed have musical talent.
As his life neared its end, Mickey was closely supported by son Dan and his wife, Karen, and grandchildren Katie and Chris Martelle, who survive, as does Dorothy; Mickey’s passing came just three weeks before their 61st wedding anniversary. Mickey also is survived by children Scott (Margaret) Martelle of Irvine, Ca., Lisa (Joe) Harvey of Pasadena, Md., Craig (Tammy) Martelle of Conestoga, Pa., and Jen (Steve) Heicklen of Medford Lakes, N.J, sister-in-law Frances Coggins of Portland and brother-in-law George Morgan of Gorham; 19 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, a passel of nieces and nephews, his cousin Linda Fox of Chicago, and longtime friends Jean Richmond, Sylvia Masin and enough others to populate a good-sized village. He was predeceased by a son, Michael, and his brother, Bruce.
Visitation will be Monday, July 13, 2015 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the J. W. Embser Funeral Home, 34 W. State Street in Wellsville, immediately followed by a brief memorial service. In lieu of gifts, the family recommends you tell someone a good Mickey story, and perhaps make a donation in his name to the David A. Howe Public Library (155 N. Main St., Wellsville, N.Y., 14895), of which Mickey was a regular and long-time patron.