Pleasant Hill Mayor's Message By Tim Flaherty
Sep 01, 2018 10:38AM
By Tim Flaherty
We had no time to prepare for Martin’s death, and we are still in shock and reeling from the profound loss we feel. Martin’s importance in the lives of all of us was so big, so consequential, that his passing has created a huge tear in our community fabric. But all of us will stitch back together the tear his death has created, and we begin the mending process by honoring Martin’s contributions and influence, his charm, his wit, the twinkle in his eye, his smile, his intellect, and his selflessness. And we offer our hearts and condolences to Martin’s brave and beautiful children, his large and loving family, and his many, many friends.
Martin did not seek the limelight, but he could not avoid it because of his many contributions to our community. However, I think he enjoyed the warm glow of the spotlight when it shined upon him—particularly when he was recognized for his above and beyond contributions with a Mayors Award and a Community Service Award. Pleasant Hill’s tag line is “At the Center of Everything,” but really, Martin was at the center of everything Pleasant Hill.
I don’t quite remember when I first met Martin, but it was shortly after he joined the city as its public information officer. He was the staff person assigned to the Civic Action Commission in 2007 at a time when I served as its chair. Martin was deferential but quickly elevated the quality of the commission and brought a professional guiding hand to help us execute our mission of building a sense of community, which we were doing through a summer concert series and a community service day.
The Summer Concert Series quickly grew in popularity as Martin’s media savvy increased our promotional reach, and his deft touch increased our budget to afford better bands and professional sound. Our nascent Community Service Day nearly doubled in volunteers and projects. He was the first to get his hands dirty, whether it was moving trash after concerts or pulling weeds in the front yard of one of our senior citizens.
Over time we became friends—good friends—grabbing a beer after a meeting, sitting in my backyard on one of our balmy nights. We found we had a lot in common. His first name and my middle name; our love of family--we both had more siblings than most—me with six and he with eight; we were recently divorced dads when we moved to Pleasant Hill; our love of the Russian River and its majestic Redwood trees; our shared commitment to community service; our similar political leanings; and, of course, our shared Irish heritage.
He told me what he knew of the ferocious Flahertys from Galway and encouraged me to visit, which I have yet to do. He spoke often of his children—Aidan, Fiona and Dierdre-- with fatherly pride. He told me of his family in Derry and his mother Mary’s fame and activism. We traded stories of growing up in a large family and making each other laugh -- though while his stories often involved running from the police, mine involved stealing altar wine and were much less exciting or dangerous.
It impressed him that I knew of Robert Emmet, the famous Irish Nationalist executed by the British in the early 1800s, and could recite a few lines from his Speech From the Dock. The few lines I remembered from high school forensics class are so poignant today:
"The man dies, but his memory lives. I pray that my memory may animate those who survive me. Let no man write my epitaph. Let my character and motives repose in obscurity and peace, till other times and other men can do them justice. ”
The memory of Martin will live on in our laughter and tears; and the impact of his contributions to our community will endure as our city continues to be a wonderful place to live, work and play, and raise a family.
So Martin, my friend, my pal,
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Traditional Irish blessing)