WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


Thomas Jensen Martin, better known to family and friends as Tom, was born at the "Old Adobe," May 8, 1912, during a snowstorm, the second child of Myron and Jessamine Martin. Tom's parents had taken adjoining homesteads in 1910 and then officially joined them in marriage and erected their home with the property line running right through the middle.

Tom attended school in Willcox where he met Jessie Powell in the 4th grade when her family moved to the Willcox area to farm. Jessie says they dated on and off during high school and both had parts in the Junior-Senior Play, PEG OF MY HEART, their senior year.

After their graduation in 1930, at the start of the Great Depression, they did not feel it wise to marry. Jessie enrolled at Flagstaff Teachers College, now Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, AZ. Tom continued to stay in Willcox and help his Mom and Dad with family ranch. He also worked as a cowboy for various ranches in the area and helped his neighbors.

Ranches Tom worked for and helped included: Mabry Lawson's G Bar, Jim Smith's Flying W, Jim Coldwell's Antelope, Stanley Crag, W. D. Wear, Booster Page and anyone else in need of help. Mabry Lawson taught Tom the value of rotating his cattle over different pastures long before the government implemented this practice for conservation. Tom then homesteaded a place of his own, adjacent to his parents and in later years expanded his ranch by buying his parentsí and brother's land holdings.

Jessie continued to attend school and graduated with a degree in education and began teaching at Ash Creek School. Tom continued to court her and when she was in her second year of teaching they were married, November 26,1936 in Willcox. After she completed that school year she stayed at home and remained busy helping Tom with the ranch and raising their three children, Thomas Lee, James Robert, and Virginia Ann. They now have 10 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

Tom operated a feed store in Willcox during the 1950's and early 1960's. In August 1963 he became a Deputy Sheriff for the Cochise County Sheriffs Department and served in this capacity under three Cochise County Sheriffs, Phil Olander, Jim Wilson, and Jimmy Judd, retiring in June of 1977. Tom enjoyed his position as a Deputy and was well thought of by his fellow officers and members of the community. Over the years many individuals have approached Jessie to tell her of their respect for Tom, of how much he did for them and how they might not have had the same opportunity to grow and develop had he not been involved in their life. Tom's life long passion was his ranch and cattle. He was also very dedicated to his family and friends and could always be counted on when someone needed assistance. He loved his children and grandchildren and they were the joy of his life, along with his life long companion Jessie.

He was active in his children's education and supported a number of school organizations such as the Future Farmers of America. The FFA recognized his contributions by making him an Honorary Member of the Willcox Chapter. For many years he offered his assistance in organizing Rex Allen Days and was an active member of the Cochise County Sheriffs Posse.

Tom lived his entire life within five miles of where he was born, going on to ride the high country every day, on September 20, 1982. He was a caring man with upstanding country values and an awareness of family and community.