Lou Martina retires from the City of Italy

Image: Lou Martina loved Italy. He father was from Sicily so he thought Italy would be a good place to live.

Lou Martina loved Italy. He father was from Sicily so he thought Italy would be a good place to live. (Cindy Sutherland)

After twelve years of service, Lou Martina retires from the City of Italy. I know everyone know who he is! Lou could be seen every morning around 5:30 AM in his red pick up truck in downtown Italy sweeping streets and picking up trash. He loved his job and took it very seriously but always had a smile for those passing by.

Mayor Jackson honored him at the City Hall with a small retirement party and presented him with a well deserved plaque. Which he now has hanging on his wall in his home.

But there is more to this man than meets the eye. He has done many things in his very exciting life. Mike Martina (his son) explained, “My Dad has always liked to work. He loved to keep the town of Italy clean, just like it was his own. There was more to him than just picking up trash. He loved to work and owned several businesses throughout his life.”

In 1957 Louis started an industrial catering route. He bought an old step van and converted it into a walk through catering truck. It was called ‘Square Meals on Wheels’. On the side of the truck it said, ‘There was a hungry working lad, cold lunches left him feeling sad, he saw our truck, Oh boy what luck, hot meal and now he is glad’. Louis started his day around 2:30 – 3:00 AM in order to get all the supplies loaded and coffee made. He would park his truck in front of the National Cash Register headquarters in Dayton, Ohio, for the morning and noontime breaks. After coming through his truck just one time, Lou remembered you, knew exactly how to make your coffee and knew what to have ready when you entered his truck. That way it was ready for you, you paid and you could get back to work in a timely manner. He serviced between seven hundred to nine hundred people a day. As you can imagine, all his customers loved him. He ran the route for twenty two years.

He also owned his own restaurant called Martina’s Italian Restaurant. It was located on Brown Street, three blocks from the University of Dayton in Ohio. And, go figure, it was such a success that you had to stand in line to get in the door on Friday and Saturday nights, they even had live music three nights a week. Customers loved his food and kept coming back.

In 1980 He purchased a motel on St. Petersburg beach, Florida. It was called the “Archway Inn Motel,” just four buildings north of the famous pink hotel, Don CeSar. When he purchased it, it was in pretty bad shape and he worked day and night fixing it up until it was a beautiful building with a water fountain in the center.

Karen Mathiowetz loves Lou. She said, “Lou is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He cares about Italy and the people here. He takes pride in our town and the way it looks. I worked with Lou at the City of Italy and consider it a privilege to call him my friend. When I had lung surgery and was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, Lou came to our house to let me know he was praying for me and brought me a gift he had made. He also offered to do anything to help Brian and me during that time. Italy is a better place to live because Lou is here.”

Mayor Jackson had this to say about Lou, "Lou was the perfect employee. He was the most humble person I have ever met. He loves Italy, the community and is so happy to be a part of it. He is always so appreciative of every little thing and never says an unkind word about anyone. He is always ready to help and always with a smile. When people would tell me how they loved how clean our little town was I knew it was because of Lou. He is the most Christ like person have met.

Lou and Louise (Lou’s wife) decided to retire in Texas. They were involved with a ministry with the “Church of God Evangelistic.” They continued this ministry in Waxahachie. They were looking to find a house and saw some for sale in Italy. They drove through our cute little town and loved it. The rest is history.

Thank you Lou for making our town a better place!