Butch Martin is a tough act to follow

Outgoing North Elba Park District Manager Eugene “Butch” Martin listens to a speaker sing his praises on Thursday, Jan. 11, during his retirement party at the Craig Wood Golf Course in Lake Placid. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

A “Who’s Who” crowd — many of the movers and shakers from the village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba — braved the snowy driving conditions on Thursday evening, Jan. 11, and headed to the Craig Wood Golf Course, where they lauded retiring North Elba Park District Manager Eugene “Butch” Martin and celebrated his more than 41 years in that position.

With John Morgan as emcee, seven men stood up and heaped well-deserving praises upon Martin, who sat in a chair and listened to stories of work, play and, for a few, the glory days of ice hockey (as a player, coach and referee). A common theme in the speeches was Martin’s positive attitude and get ‘er done managerial style. It seems there was no difficult task or challenge that Martin wouldn’t tackle while managing the Park District, which operates venues such as the golf course, North Elba Show Grounds, North Elba Athletic Fields and Lake Placid Toboggan Chute.

With that much institutional memory and experience working at local venues — starting at the 1932 Olympic Arena as a rink attendant in 1967, working summers there during college, being hired by Arena Manager Bob Allen in 1977, serving as the Olympic Center’s director of operations during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games and starting as the North Elba Park District manager in 1982 — Martin is a tough act to follow.

As Martin said in a Jan. 2 press release, he’s worked with seven supervisors, numerous town board members and many event organizers, and his total contribution to the town amounts to more than 55 years of service.

We wish Butch Martin the best in his retirement and hope he has plenty of sunny days to enjoy with his family and friends. He is indeed a legend in the Lake Placid community, and we will miss interacting with him on a regular basis. While he won’t be fielding any questions about the town’s venues from our news staff, at least the Lake Placid News sports editor will be talking to him throughout the hockey season, as he is the coach for the SLP girls hockey team.

By all accounts, Martin’s successor, Matt St. Louis, seems up for the task. Martin will still be around to answer any questions from St. Louis, yet as several retirement party speakers pointed out, there is one question he will happily not have to answer ever again:

“When is the Toboggan Chute opening?”

(Editor’s note: A story on Butch Martin’s retirement party will be published in the Jan. 26 issue of the Lake Placid News.)

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