Remembering my dad


Remembering My Dad by Daryl Zoellner

J.Clare Martin

John Clare Martin, b. Feb. 25, 1935, Mossleigh, Alberta Canada … d. July 25, 2017, Calgary, Alberta Canada.


  1. Clare Martin devoted his 82 years to mainly 3 occupations he loved.


  1. Our dad loved being outdoors. With his brother, father and an uncle he together with them operated a small sawmill outside of Kimberley British Columbia – a territory of primary industries (farming, fishing, hunting, mining, and forestry). I always thought I would remember Dad for his love of a fresh ripe tomato or for the times he took us camping and fishing. His father, from a large family making its way through the Depression on the Prairies, worked as a seed elevator operator in Cowley Alberta and later took his own posterity of 4 teenagers across the Rocky Mtns. to Kimberley, BC where Clare, Ken and Lenore’s 3rd child met his wife, Patricia Ann Botterill at Kimberley High School.


They married on July 31, 1954 after Mom completed a practical nursing course in nearby Cranbrook, BC. They expected to live in the East Kootenays for the rest of their lives with Carl, Daryl and Judy, all born in Kimberley.


  1. The second occupation Clare loved was found in the pastoral ministry and in service as an elder in Nelson, BC (Presbyterian Church in Canada), in Edmonton (Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod / Presbyterian Church in America), in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (RPCES) and in RPCES and PCA churches in Calgary, Alberta.


Although Clare was born at home in southeastern Alberta, his birth was registered in the nearby town of Mossleigh (two siblings were registerd in Arrowood) south and east of Calgary and directly north of Vulcan and Lethbridge. He later visited the Star Trek museum in Vulcan, the Siksika 7 Treaty museum of the Blood and Blackfoot First Nations at Gleichen and told stories of hitchhiking over a hundred miles in the 1940’s to visit his grandparents when his own parents were unhappy with him.


But Clare was also not a stranger in Calgary. At 4 years old, he fell off a porch and broke his right femur near the hip. While his parents moved the family to Cowley near the Crowchild Pass into the Rocky Mtns., Dad was in a Calgary hospital in traction and being an ornery patient to the spinster nurses there. He has always disliked hospitals since that adventure and he always defended the rights of the patient over those of the staff.


An aunt (Vivian) on his father’s side living in Calgary comforted him with the Good News of reconciliation to God in Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit. Jesus loved him and the Spirit would go through life with him to return him ultimately to the Father. Although a part of his mother’s family moved in Mormon circles and served at the Mormon Temple in Cardston, Alberta, some were indifferent to the Christian faith. Other ancestors were in various churches in the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon whence had come the Magoon-Martin – Northrup clan who had roots in New York and Connecticut.


While in Kimberley, Clare was highly influenced by a Kimberley Dynamiter star backstop hockey player named Earl Betker. Clare’s father-in-law, our grandfather Fred Botterill was also a star player on that team that won the World Cup in 1937. Our grandmother’s family frequented and helped found St. Andrews Presbyterian Church where my dad was able to meet and be influenced by my mother’s aunt and uncle Bill and Elsie Jones, the Davidsons, Earl and Shirley Betker, and the new pastor John Allyson and his wife Pat both from southern Ontario. These friends prayed Clare into the Kingdom of God and to live under a new divine vocation. Through Bible reading, Dad found he could really identify with the apostle Peter.


After loading bags of ferilizer destined for Alberta and Saskatchewan at the new COMINCO Plant (Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company), Clare was ready to make a career change. Enough shift work and heavy lifting physically – now to the heavy lifting against the spiritual forces of darkness in peoples’ lives ! Clare drove his wife and 3 children to south Vancouver. There, he was a student pastor for Marpole Presbyterian Church (PCC) near the Oak St. Bridge off Marine Drive while he attended classes at the University of British Columbia. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Classical History and Literature and graduated in 1968. Athough the time was ripe, he was anything but a hippie. Maybe he was more from the Beat Generation but he didn’t know it. From there, Clare drove his wife and teenagers to Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He would do a degree in pastoral ministry at the well-known “Old Princeton” school founded in the late 1930’s which today is known as Westminster Theological Seminary – Westminster was the name of the Assembly of the English Parliament that restructured the Church of England and wrote the Westminster Standards (1643-1653). The elders in Fairview Presbyterian Church in Vancouver recommended this school for its live orthodoxy and its European Calvinist heritage. In the face of Higher Criticism and unstructured perfectionist movements, Westminster was holding on to an expression of Christian worship of God that had been “once for all handed down by the eyewitnesses who cherished the message they had received in the person and work of Christ”. The Seminary began in the heart of downtown Philadelphia and moved to the suburb of Chestnut Hill near Glenside where we lived from 1968-1971. Dad and Mom both worked at part time jobs to pay the bills. Dad was able to complete his Master of Divinity in Theology in 1971 (even before they called it that). We returned to Western Canada where Dad was called to be the pastor in Nelson, BC. at first Presbyterian Church with two other congregations he served in Castlegar and Slocan. After 3 years of service there, he was called by a church in Edmonton. In 1974 Dad and Mom began adhering to the PCA which nurtured them and fellowshipped with them until they died. Pat was cared for by Dad in her last 4 years and breathed her last breath at home in south Calgary on June 3rd, 2015. Clare was cared for by his sons – in – law Don Simmons and J. Garnet Zoellner and by his daughters Judy and Daryl after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma lung cancer. Don and Judy lived closest to our parents since they have a home in NE Calgary, yet we all and our children are left to pick up the baton our parents handed to us and run with it into the future. Dad breathed his last breath at home on July 25th 2017.


Clare and Pat loved their travels across Canada and into the U.S.A. They visited the major Eastern North American cities and when their daughter and son-law the Zoellners moved to Quebec or their son Carl and his author- wife Jill Bouthellier moved from Victoria, BC to Lunenburg, N.S., Clare and Pat profited from their many eastern visits to see them and their granchildren. They are survived by 11 grandchildren. Three are from the Simmons family (Christopher, Amy and Justin), six from the Zoellner family (Sara, Kira, Erin, Martin, Daniel and Andrea) and two from the Martin family (Krista and Matthew). There are also 16 great grandchildren in the Zoellner family. Only Clare’s sister Dale Zinovich is still living (in Kimberley). His brother Don’s wife Ruby Martin lives in Kelowna and his wife’s sister Joan Sturrock lives in Edmonton. Clare has cousins, nieces and nephews in BC and Alberta and on his father’s and mother’s family’s sides there remain ancestors in the northern and mid-western states of the US.


  1. Clare was an outdoorsman but not without also being a critical thinker. When he lived in Calgary, he drove adapted transportation for people with disabilities to provide for himself and his wife Pat while he served as an elder. In this capacity, he interacted with people with disabilities and for whom he had great compassion. Today this service is still being offered under the Calgary Access Transit Authority. He saw himself as a needy rebel against both humanity and God yet at the same time a rescued man who never received the punishment he lawfully deserved. Thus he was a man who lived modestly, gratefully and joyfully.


In conclusion, for 37 years, from 1979 to 2017, Clare made his love of God his active passion in order to better love his neighbours in Calgary, both at church and in the community. He was able to communicate his heart-felt compassion across many social divides in spite of his own weaknesses, whether fraility of a psychological, cognitive, experimental, or philosophical nature. He was known for his steadfastness as a result. He died of sadness from losing his beloved Pat but he hoped to rejoin her beyond this visible world. The human physical eye is after all highly over-rated ! Clare “fought the good fight, he finished the race well”, and is now with the One who never left him either in the body or out, the One who is able to give him the crown of everlasting life.


Thanks are due to Pastor Brad Jones, Jessie and Richard Mercer, elders, deacons, and all the friends and members of Woodgreen Presbyterian Church in Calgary SW for their support and encouragement to Clare especially while he spent four years caring for his wife, our mother, when she became ill in 2011. Thanks go for encouragement given by Dad’s mid-week small Bible study groups (both English and English /Chinese) and by his Millrise Point of View Condo neighbours while he declined as a reluctant widower. We as a family were greatly supported by the Urban Palliative Care Team of Calgary Southwest. They made End of Life C1 Care possible while my parents remained comfortable in their home. At a distance, we had Dr. Matthew Linton, attending GP and a variety of specialists and surgeons at the Rockyview and Foothills Hospitals. We thank Helen Davies and Sara Marten as nurses along with their team of legal advisors, occupational therapists, pharmacists etc., and we thank the support workers, practical nurses and respite aids from WE CARE. We also thank Choice Memorials for making their remembrance website available.


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