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Remembering Local Grocer Bill Martin

Posted at 7:05 PM, Aug 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-05 23:11:22-04

A veteran who owned and operated a local grocery store passed away after serving the community for more than 50 years.

"He always had his shirt, bow tie, and apron, always. Always dressed to go to work," Joe Patton said.

Bill Martin of Bill Martin Foods was 96 years old. 

On Saturday, dozens of people stopped by the grocery on Fatherland Street in East Nashville to offer their condolences. 

"To me, he was like a father to me," Elaine Peebles said. "Through those years that I was here, I had some trials and tribulations, but I could always go to Mister Martin." 

Peebles has been one of Bill Martin's customers for 35 years. 

"And sometime you may be in a hurry, but Mister Martin was never in a hurry so you could stand there and talk to him maybe 20 to 30 minutes when you need to be gone, but you forget about what you're doing talking to Mister Martin," Peebles said.

Photos: Remembering Local Grocer Bill Martin

Some cashiers were in tears as they packed up groceries on Saturday.

"We just remember him welcoming you, and asking, 'How ya doing?' Just that grin! That's what I'm going to miss mostly about him."

Workers said Martin would hire people who had fallen on tough times. 

"I had been in a little trouble, and he gave me a job," Patton said. "And I've been here nine years."

Patton said the opportunity to have a job helped him turn his life around.

He showed us pictures of Bill Martin from when he served as a military police officer. 

"That's his service picture," Patton said. "He was an MP protecting a black man. That's where he's getting sworn in."

Visitation for Bill Martin will be at Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home on Gallatin Road.

People can stop by on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

"He helped so many people. In so many ways. Not always handing out money, but sometimes giving a kind word," Peebles said.

The funeral will be in the chapel at Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home on Wednesday at 10 a.m.