Drake Martin: A Man of Influence, Leadership, and Friendship

It has been said that you don’t know how much you appreciate something until it is gone. That is  more than appropriate in describing Drake Martin who has just recently passed away at Backbone State Park in NE Iowa. It becomes more and more sad for me as I hear about what happened and the amount of people that he influenced as a Father, employee, friend, and husband.

I remember my junior year of college at UNI when I first became an RA.  We had 10 days of training before the big day when students arrived to campus. Drake did some of the training and I distinctly remember him comparing us RA’s to catalytic converters in the influence we would have on people’s lives, playing the song If Today Was Your Last Day by Nickleback multiple times(which I will blog about later), and challenging us to high standards as leaders on campus.

One expectation he wanted to hold us to was to have a  meaningful conversation with every resident, every month. And what better way to show us how than for him to do that with us? So Drake made the time and invited every RA (which was probably like 60-70 people) to email him a time to get together with him for a meal. He emailed all of us multiple times and I remember thinking, “Yea sure, whatever, I can do this I guess.”

I remember meeting Drake right outside the Rialto and he warmly welcomed me and shook my hand. We proceeded to have a great time talking and getting to know one another! I went into the conversation not knowing who this Drake Martin guy was and I walked away feeling like I was one of his best friends. He asked me a lot of questions and seemed really interested in what I was doing and why I wanted to be an RA. He helped me feel more confident in what I was doing and helped relieve some of my fears and worries. When Drake found out I was an exercise science major, he immediately networked me and gave me some people in the area I should contact who owned some gyms.

Over the next year I saw Drake here and there and each time I did it felt like I was catching up with an old friend. Drake epitomized friendliness and welcoming of others and I was just one of the many people we benefited from it!

It is so sad to think of Drake not being at UNI anymore but the true extent of his influence and presence will be felt these next few days, weeks, and months. I am so blessed and now I fully realize it.

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