Its not so often people applaud at a funeral, but they did at Frank Martins.
A packed St. Paul Methodist Church erupted in applause today as the Greater Beallwood Baptist Church choir finished a rousing rendition of Going Up Yonder with Christine Pickette as the featured vocalist.
It was one of many striking moments in a 45-minute service for the former Columbus mayor and powerful attorney who shaped the city and its politics.
Amid scripture readings were allusions to the old black-and-white TV Western Have Gun, Will Travel, the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, and a poem by Josiah Gilbert Holland titled God, give us men!
The Rev. Helen Berenthien read the poem, saying she once used it in a service at St. Luke United Methodist Church, and Martin was struck by the verses. The poem sings the praises of men who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking! Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog in public duty, and in private thinking.
Said Berenthien: Only God knows how well Frank Martin was able to apply these teachings and these words to his own life, but there is a lot of evidence that Frank sought always to live above the fog in both his public duty and in his private thinking.
It was the Rev. Edwin Cooper Jr. of St. Paul who, after quoting the 121st Psalm, referred to The Shawshank Redemption and to Paladin, the gunfighter Richard Boone played in TVs Have Gun, Will Travel.
A paladin by definition is the champion of a noble cause, a role Martin played repeatedly, Cooper noted. Like the TV character with the calling card that read Have Gun, Will Travel, Martin traveled to serve his clients and constituents most notably during his 1991-94 mayoral term, when he secured for Columbus an Olympic softball venue when the 1996 games came to Atlanta.
Martin more than once served as a heroic champion who would take on the whirlwind if he thought he was right, Cooper said. As mayor, Mister One Term And Done moved us from a self-conscious, provincial community, to the self-confident city we are today.
"No one wins every battle, Cooper added, referencing Martins effort in the early 90s to eradicate Columbus freeze on owner-occupied home tax assessments.
That windmill didnt tilt, Cooper said, his Quixotic quip drawing chuckles.
Now others must be the paladins of Columbus: Today we pray for strong men and women to rise up and honor his vision, said Cooper, echoing the poem Berenthien read.
He concluded with a quote from The Shawshank Redemption, based on a Stephen King story about a wrongly convicted inmate who escapes, leaving behind a trusted friend who while despondent over his loss says:
I have to remind myself that some birds arent meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that theyre gone. I guess I just miss my friend.