Franklin W. Martin, 85, of Lehigh Acres, died Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. He was born April 14, 1928, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to the late Herman and Anna Jewett Martin.
He was married to Adiela R. Martin for 41 years, and they lived in Puerto Rico before relocating to Lehigh Acres in 1986.
He was a graduate of the Oklahoma Baptist University, and he obtained a Ph.D. in plant genetics from the University of California in Davis, Calif.
Franklin W. Martin
He was a horticulturist and a scientist, and he spent his career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
He served as director of The Mayaguez Institute for Tropical Agriculture for 20 years.
He became an expert on rhubarb early in his career and was sent around the world by the Department of Agriculture to study the yam - Discorea spp. - as a food source for people in underdeveloped countries.
He became a world-recognized authority on yams and, later, sweet potatoes. He was also a renowned authority in palms and had a vast number of scientific and popular publications.
He enjoyed hiking in the wilds and had a deep appreciation of nature and science. An avid gardener, as well as a fruit and vegetable collector, his goal in horticulture was to learn what he could and to pass it on to others.
He belonged to The Garden Club of Lehigh Acres and wrote a book on the subject, "Gardening in Lehigh."
He published several books while working throughout the tropics of the world. Some of his better-known titles are "Edible Leaves of the Tropics," "Techniques and Plants for the Tropical Subsistence Farm," "Survival and Subsistence in the Tropics," "Handbook of Tropical Food Crops" and "Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics."
He was a talented author and wrote a number of short stories profusely depicting the nature of human existence, some of which were written in Spanish, a language he spoke and wrote fluently.
He masterminded the Creative Writing Group - today's Penpushers - which originated at the Senior Citizens Center, was sponsored by the Lehigh Regional Medical Center and Lee County, and continues to this day.
He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.
He is survived by his wife, Adiela; sister, Anna May Burson of Southerlin, Ore.; brothers, Roger Martin of San Diego, Calif., and Bud Martin of Durango, Colo.; children, Jonathan D., Alison G., Roderic L., Cecilia A., Carlos E., Jos M. and Juan C.; 10 grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by a sister, Ada Doty.
A memorial Mass was celebrated Thursday, March 13, 2014, at St. Raphael Catholic Church, followed by a celebration of a life family reunion.