Local businessman dies in decorating accident

Shawn Hardy

Aldine Martin was old-school, self-motivated and self-driven. At 88, he still wasn’t one to sit around and rest on his laurels as founder of successful businesses including Sunnyway Foods, Keystone Ford and Keystone RV.

Land has been purchased to expand the RV dealership, which also recently earned an award that took the 88-year-old with a love of travel to Nevis in the West Indies.

“He still needed something to do and somewhere to hang his hat. He wouldn’t sit around, that’s how he lost his life,” said his son, Dean, co-owner of Sunnyway Foods with his brother Mike.

On Friday afternoon while carrying on a tradition to delight area youngsters, Aldine Martin was decorating his home at 29 Williamson Ave. for Christmas when the high lift he was using overturned.

Aldine Martin died at the scene and Tracy Abbott, 48, of Greencastle, who works at Keystone RV and was helping with the decorating, suffered serious injuries and was flown to Hershey Medical Center. Abbott has a long road ahead of him, is expected to recover and may be home for Thanksgiving, Dean Martin said.

The Martin home, lit with blue lights with reindeer on the roof and a 50-year-old manger scene in the yard, won last year’s Heritage Christmas Light It Up contest.

“Over the years, he realized how many kids look forward to the blue lights,” Dean Martin said.

The decorating was about three-quarters done when the accident happened and Mike and Dean are committed to finishing in honor of their father with the help of Robert Wolff of GW Electric.

“This is about Dad, one more time we’re going to do blue lights,” said Dean Martin. “This about honoring Dad and finishing what he wanted to do.”

Finishing what he wanted to do was a hallmark of Aldine Martin’s life and business success. Starting with a farmers market, he and his wife of 66 years, Margaret, opened Sunnyway Foods in Greencastle, followed by the Chambersburg store in 1974. Margaret Martin still works every day at the Greencastle store, mainly dealing with bulk foods, while her husband was more active with Keystone Ford and Keystone RV.

“That’s my Dad, from business to personal, living on the edge,” Dean Martin said.

The recent trip to Nevis included a deep sea fishing outing and Dean Martin recalls similar experiences when he was young. From deep sea fishing in Mexico to waterskiing on the Potomac River. Aldine Martin, a licensed pilot, also had his own plane at one time.

Aldine Martin loved to travel and at just 16 he went to Poland with a heifer program. Heifer International, which works to end hunger and poverty, is one of the organizations to which donations in his memory can be made, along with MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) and the Mennonite Central Committee.

“Aldine Martin was a visionary entrepreneur in the Greencastle-Antrim community and beyond for over 60 years where his various visions have been and continue to be a positive economic stimulus in the community,” said Ben Thomas Jr., a long-time Greencastle resident and mayor-elect. “His Christian Faith was paramount in his life.”

A member of Cedar Street Mennonite Church in Chambersburg, where he served in various positions and offices, Aldine Martin also served on the board of a number of local charities and businesses, including 30 years on the board of Menno Haven.

"On behalf of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, we are all distressed and saddened to hear of the death of Aldine Martin. Sunnyway Foods, Keystone Ford and Keystone RV are all important and valuable members of our chamber. Aldine's businesses,  entrepreneurial spirit, and love of his community of Greencastle will have a lasting impact in history and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, including his son Dean Martin, who currently serves on our chamber board,” said Georgina Cranston, executive director of the chamber.

On the counter of the customer service counter in the Greencastle store is a candle and a card that says, “This candle is lit in memory of Aldine Martin, who passed away on November 17, 2017. Aldine was the founder of Sunnyway Foods. Aldine will be greatly missed by everyone.”

There have already been many condolences offered to the family and Dean Martin expects Tuesday’s visitation at Marion Mennonite Church will be overwhelming. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Marion church.

“He’s touched so many people’s lives personally and in business,” Dean Martin said.