The Juneau Chamber of Commerce named Bob Martin, vice president of operations for Goldbelt Inc., Citizen of the Year for 2008 in a ceremony Saturday at Centennial Hall.
"I'm normally not speechless," quipped Martin as he received the award from Romer Derr of Harri's Plumbing and Heating. "I can't tell you how much of an honor it is to be listed along with the great people who've made Juneau what it is today."
Martin's been in too many groups to list completely. These days he's on the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska and the board of trustees for Sealaska Corp. He's a member and past president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 70, a past president of the Northwest Public Power Association. He's on the Denali Commission and, since the avalanches that this spring took out Juneau power lines, the Juneau Lessons Learned Commission.
"He has the heart of a public servant," said Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy, a past president of the chamber. Former chamber presidents choose the winner each year to recognize people for their community involvement.
They say he's smart, he knows everybody, and he keeps a cool head in a crisis. But the first thing people mention about Bob Martin is his wry humor.
"That certainly helps with the overall morale of the company," said J. Gary Droubay, president and CEO of Goldbelt Inc., Juneau's urban Alaska Native corporation, and Martin's boss.
Beneath the good humor is a deep involvement in and knowledge of Southeast Alaska.
As vice president, Martin oversees the Mount Roberts Tramway, the Goldbelt Hotel, Goldbelt Security Services and development of lands in west Douglas, Hobart Bay and Cascade Point. He is a past member of the Goldbelt board of directors.
Martin was a roads engineer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Southeast director of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
He has been a strong supporter of building a road out of Juneau. In a spirited tussle over the road on the Empire's opinion page in 2002, Martin ended with characteristic humor: "Let my people go."
He also was Tlingit-Haida Regional Electrical Authority general manager and vice president of corporate development for Sealaska Corp., Southeast's regional Native corporation.
Martin, 66, born in Kake, has a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As a student, he made the national "Who's Who in American Students" list. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Army as a captain and won an Army Commendation Medal for service in a classified security program overseas.
His brother, Bill Martin, is president of Tlingit and Haida Central Council, and said Bob looked after him when they were children and still has strong family values.
"He tries to model himself to be like our parents taught us," Bill Martin said. "He is a good, decent human. I admire him."
Bob Martin, center, receives the Juneau Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award from Romer Derr, right, and Kevin Sullivan on Saturday night at Centennial Hall.