By Merv Coleman
Special to the News
Sally Martin part time resident of Red Lodge and co-founder /full time promoter of the Red Lodge Fun Run for Charities passed away last week, April 23 from a long battle with cancer. Sally and her husband, Don, operated, Lone Pine Lodging guest houses in Red Lodge. Their other residence was in southern California, but Sally’s heart was always in Red Lodge. Sally was one was of the early chairpersons of a fledging Red Lodge Area Community Foundation and it was through Sally’s vision and inspiration that the organization has grown into what it is today, a valuable asset to Red Lodge and the numerous non profit organizations that it assists in many ways.
Sally was always a flamboyant character at the annual Fun Runs, dressing in various costumes and outfits with maybe the most notable being the coconut bra that she sported one year. An event was held in October each year to award the disbursements to the non-profits and Sally was always there to say thanks to the volunteers, sponsors and the Red Lodge community. She always provided colorful beads and noisemakers to add a little pizzazz to the event.
Tributes came from both the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce, and from the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation Executive Director Tracy Timmons.
The Chamber said Sally was “so special to this community.”
“She was an innovative, forward thinker, who worked towards always bringing this community together for everyone’s benefit. She was so beautiful, youthful and bright. She was a great communicator and worked to make this town better each day. Her efforts through the Fun Run will continually live on, growing stronger each year with more funds to sustain the community non-profits and more attendees who enjoy the beauty of our area. We are grateful for Sally’s infinite contributions and she will be missed dearly,” said the Chamber.
"Sally could light up a room just by entering it,” said Timmons. “She possessed an amazing ability to inspire people with her natural enthusiasm for life and endeavor. Sally was a bright spot in any consideration that I shared with her - she knew how to share endless possibilities. Our community will benefit long into the future from her imagination. Sally turned a dream of a collaborative Fun Run for Charities into reality. Please consider "Paying It Forward" to honor our Sally! We are going to miss her."
Because she lived in California a good share of the time, Sally used emails to conduct the business of the foundation. It would not be unusual to have 5 to 10 emails a day from Sally. Mark Schubert had just joined the foundation board in April 2000 and a month later he exclaimed to fellow board member Merv Coleman that he was a bit overwhelmed by all the emails.
Sally’s husband, Don, asked Merv Coleman to put an article together for the newspaper and said we could write anything about Sally except for her age. In relaying the request to fellow board member and co founder of the fun run, Sarah Ewald, she said that is so funny because she had asked Sally on several occasions about her age but would never say.
Sally, along with newfound friend Linda Eckhoff, who brought the idea of a fun run from Jackson Hole, Wyo., got the event off the ground in 2003 with the help of Hope Smith and Sarah Ewald. All of those agree, though, that it was Sally’s optimism, perseverance and emails that held the event together those first few years.
In remembering Sally, Sarah Ewald said, “she probably did more for this community and the Community Foundation in her short time here than most people do in a lifetime. And she did it with such spirit, class and grace.”
Ewald recalled that Sally could be both “elegant” and “silly” and “graceful.”
“She had fantastic taste and you followed her cue, she brought you along. It was a pleasure to serve with her,” said Ewald. “This was Sally and Linda’s (Eckhoff) little acorn and we just took from their wisdom and desire. It’s the reason the whole Foundation started.”
“She was a women of huge contrasts and all of them lovely,” said Ewald.
Also paying homage was Hope Smith, who said Sally “was a remarkable woman with unbounded energy and she did a tremendous amount of work to get the Community Foundation started and we are indebted to her.”
This year’s 10th Annual Red Lodge Fun Run for Charities will take place Aug. 31.
Ewald said it would be “bittersweet” but “something will be done to honor Sally and Don, who is a huge supporter.”
Last year, the Fun Run broke all records, from attendance (1,200 participants), money raised ($195,152), to the number of Carbon County non-profits benefiting (52). The total amount raised from the nine Fun Run events has been approximately $1.2 million.