By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Tuesday, Jan. 9, was an odd day for Newlin Martin.
It was both routine and totally different.
He was up early like always and headed to work – a drive he has made thousands of times during the years.
He walked into Martin’s IGA, greeted some of the employees and walked upstairs to his office. Again, something he has done countless times.
But that familiar routine then took a twist.
For the first time in nearly 80 years, the Martin family was no longer the owners of this iconic grocery story that has been such a valuable and giving part of the Effingham community.
Kirby Foods had purchased the business and officially took control on January 8.
“It did feel a little odd,” Newlin admitted. “I know I’m not in charge anymore and need to step back. But it’s hard to shut that off after all these years.”
Newlin will maintain his office in the store, which he said he appreciated very much. And don’t be surprised if you see him on the floor helping out.
“I still plan to help when needed,” he noted. “You might even see me bagging groceries once in a while.”
But on this day, this kind and generous 77-year-old man didn’t want to talk about himself.
This was an opportunity to say thank you.
“Donna and I want to thank this community for all the support we’ve received,” Newlin said. “We also want to recognize the team we have here and all those that came before us. They all set the bar high and are responsible for the level of success we’ve had. Both employees and customers have been very loyal to us through the years.”
But that road of support runs in two directions. And Newlin learned from an early age the value of giving back and helping the community. His father, Clyde Martin, who started with a meat locker in leased space at the old A&P in 1938, was also a believer in giving back and emphasized that over and over again to his young son.
“Dad always said “Son, give back to the community and they will support you,’” Newlin recalled. “And he was right. This community has been special to us and has meant so much to the Martin family. We’ve tried our best to give back.”
So what’s next?
“My ‘bucket list’ is so long I’m overwhelmed as to where to start,” Newlin said, followed by a chuckle. “First of all, I’m really looking forward to spending more time with Donna just as a couple. She has always been understanding about the amount of time I was away and never complained once. She’s been great.
“Now we can get up and have coffee together and just visit; or if we want to go out for breakfast, we can,” he added. “The mornings are more relaxed. Plus, it’s nice to know that if I want to roll over and sleep another 30 minutes, I can.”
Newlin is also looking forward to spending more time working around his farm.
“I’ve always liked working outside,” he said. “There are plenty of things that will keep me busy. And Donna has plenty of things on her ‘honey-do’ list for me, too.”
Newlin and Donna, his wife of 27 years, will also be able to be with family and friends more. They have *** children, 13 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild spread from Bloomington to Chicago to Missouri to Ohio.
“We like being grandparents,” Newlin admitted. “We’re looking forward to being with family more often and our good friends, too. We haven’t spent as much time with all of them as we would have liked. Hopefully, we can change that now.”
How about traveling?
“We’ll probably do some day trips or overnight trips, as long as we can drive there,” Newlin explained. “If a car isn’t involved, we probably won’t go.”
Newlin admits he’s going through a transition phase, but said “it’s going pretty well. Yes, it feels odd, but things are going to be fine.”
People will continue to see Newlin and Donna around town. They aren’t planning any kind of a move.
“I’ve never considered working or living anywhere else,” Newlin said. “Effingham is our home. And it’s a special, special place.”