|Pie Martinez is Zwolle Fest 'Oldest Logger' May 9||
Pie Martinez with trophy wall at City Hall
Joseph Martinez was born on December 11, 1940 to
Catherine Sepulvado and G.L. (Chooch) Martinez, it was
not immediately obvious that he would become the Oldest
Logger in the Zwolle community, but it did not take his
grandmother long to notice that his personality was as
"Sweet as Pie"--a characteristic that endeared
him to family and friends, gave him a name, and set him
on a lifetime course of hard work and service to his
community. Today, he doesn't even need a last name to be
recognized in the forestry community of Louisiana, where
he has been a participating leader for all of his adult
life. He is simply Pie.
It is also difficult to dig up a part of Pie's life that has not been thoroughly documented by public recognition that goes back for most of the years of his life of industry and community leadership, beginning in his school years at St. Joseph Catholic School, and Zwolle High School. That dimension of the man is personally documented in a handwritten credo apparently written by himself on the margin of a page from an earlier piece copied from one of the forestry journals recognizing his achievements. It says, "A Life to Share!"
In the annual interview with the Oldest Logger to be recognized at the annual Zwolle Loggers and Forestry Festival, which I have been privileged to do since the beginning edition of The Piney Woods Journal, which is by now nearly the same age as the Festival event itself (The Journal begins its 20th year next month; the coming Festival is the 21st) I sat together with a young woman reporter from the weekly Sabine Index in Many, listening as Pie read to us from first one then another of the several scrapbooks he produced, each one filled with published accounts of his civic, personal, and professional achievements going back for years. The scene was the Town Council meeting room in the Zwolle Town Hall, where he maintains his office in his second four-year term as Mayor.
Sorting through the notes from that interview, looking for a shred of Pie Martinez' public life that was not already on the published record, on a hunch I flipped on my trusty computer and Googled "Pie Martinez," prepared to be unsurprised if I found a life story already filed on Wikipedia. There was not, yet, even though there is a string of posted reports of several of the various personal, civic, and public honors he has achieved. What is surprising is that the man at age 74, tapped as the Oldest Logger, an honor he helped to create as one of the organizers of the Loggers and Forestry Festival over 21 years ago, is also a man still very much living in the present moment, energetically administering the public affairs of his home town as its Mayor.
Pie began work in the woods at an early age with his father, in the days when muscle, hand tools, and mule power were the engines that brought the trees to harvest. He went through the transition to the totally mechanized industry of today, with powerful shears, skidders, delimbers, loaders, and double-bunk trucks get the wood to mill without the direct touch of human hands.
In his progression, Pie showed business acumen and public responsibility, serving on the advisory board of People's State Bank, board of directors of Louisiana Forestry Association, Eucharistic minister and member of finance and pastoral councils at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. He has been named Outstanding Logger of 1994 by Louisiana Forestry Association, and inducted into the Louisiana Loggers Hall of Fame, and more recently, to the Sabine Parish Hall of Fame.
He served two terms on the Sabine Parish School Board, and now is Mayor of Zwolle.
Commenting on changes in the community, Pie said, "Let us never forget those families that gave up their land and homes to make way for the Toledo Bend Lake." The lake has materially raised the economy of Sabine Parish with tourism and home construction around the water's edge.
I only asked one question that stumped Pie. "Where did your father's nickname, Chooch, come from?" He's working on that.
I hope to see him at the annual Festival on May 9, wearing his crown and greeting his friends, of whom there are myriads.