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Neighborhood champion made mark

Mary Martin, who died unexpectedly this week, will be rightly remembered for the enormous contributions she made to Gresham's quality of life.

Martin was a neighborhood activist before that term even had relevance in Gresham. She helped form the city's first neighborhood groups, and then spent many years of her life lobbying on behalf of Gresham's quiet majority - those folks who work long hours to pay the mortgages on their suburban homes.

Protecting livability for those citizens was Martin's passion. She wasn't a polished politician or a particularly high-rolling businesswoman, but she was a hard worker who knew how to lead by example. As chairwoman of her Southwest Gresham Neighborhood Association - and as chair of the city's overall Neighborhood Coalition - she fought against developments she thought would damage neighborhood livability, and she worked to make other developments more suitable for their surroundings.

As a real estate broker, Martin also was heavily involved in her industry. She served recently as president of the East Metro Association of Realtors, and she was the longtime chair of that group's governmental affairs committee.

We could imagine that there might have been times when Martin's professional concerns and her community activism were at odds. But if that occurred, Martin handled it so well that we didn't detect a conflict. That's probably because Martin never gave the appearance that she was working the angles or trying to benefit from public involvement.

She simply was working on behalf of a community she loved. And as a direct result of her efforts, Gresham has a greater awareness of its own quality of life and the need to protect it.