2019 Festival Honoree
Mary Ann Martin
Mary Ann Martin was born on March 12, 1945 to the late Paul and Mary Colbert. She was raised in Pauls Valley,
Oklahoma being the oldest of three girls. As a young lady, she would work every day after school at her father’s shoe store in Pauls Valley where she learned merchandising, and inherited a keen sense for business. If she wasn’t in her father’s shoe store, she was nurturing a love for classical music and played the piano for some six hours a day. She inevitably went to OCW in Chickasha, OK a small women's college that catered to the arts. After many recitals, and studying music under some of the greatest artists, she decided to finish out her college life at The University of Oklahoma where she graduated with a bachelor degree in fine arts/music. It was during that time that she began to fish with her Dad on the weekends and discovered her passion for the outdoors. Actually she enjoyed anything that she and her Dad did together. She was definitely the tom boy of the family, much like the boy he never had. Her dad also enjoyed flying planes and this too would also become a passion of Mary Ann’s. She got her pilots license, bought her first plane a Fairchild PT26, and even joined the Antique Airplane Association.
Whatever Mary Ann put her mind to, she did it with great enthusiasm, and she did it well! During one of those fishing tournaments that she and her Dad fished, she was introduced to her husband and father of her children, Mr. Roland Martin. They married in 1972 and had their son, Scott, in 1975. That was sort of the end of her flying days, as he wanted no part of it and certainly didn’t enjoy flying for fun. Roland and Maryann traveled all over the United States fishing tournaments together, He fished Bass Masters and she fished BASS’N Gal. While he was making a name for himself, she too was making one of her own. In 1978, Mary Ann won the BASS’N Gal World Championship and was noted one of the best women anglers of her time. Shortly after that win, she would be featured, not only as the first woman angler but the first woman ever to be on the cover of Field & Stream Magazine.
In the early 80’s, she and Roland decided that they needed to make a move Roland wanted a TV show but he also wanted a marina with his name on it. They set off to Florida to find the perfect lake, the perfect spot to set their dreams in motion. After driving through many towns, and researching many lakes, they came across Clewiston on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. Both of them agreed they had never seen such an incredible fishery, the potential to set the sport of fishing in motion, and a lovely little town that they would raise their children and ultimately call home! They bought The Clewiston Marina in 1982 and it was just a tiny little, dilapidated bait shop and place for fishing guides to run out of, but it would do... it was a start. During that year, she also bought a home and had a brand new baby girl, Laura Ann Mary Martin. Roland continued fishing tournaments around the US and Mary Ann stayed behind to raise her family and run the marina, which was and still continues to be open 7 days a week. She woke up every morning at 4am to go down and open the marina. She would dip bait and get the guides off just in time to get back home, wake up the kids, and get them off to school. Mary Ann had big plans, she had a vision to make Roland Martin Marina a destination for fishermen, a place to grow the sport, and offer accommodations in an effort to show off this incredible lake. She started by building condos, sold each of them off to get enough money to then build the Marina that you see today. She was able to bring in the first national bass tournament in the early 90’s. She would ultimately host many national Bass Tournaments thereafter and pack our town of Clewiston with fishermen from all over the world. In the beginning she funded these events by herself.
While her efforts were to bring fishermen from all over to Lake O, she ultimately would entertain many celebrities and high profile politicians that also wanted to come down and catch one of those massive green Bass! In 2006 Lake Okeechobee was named the #1 Bass Fishing Lake in the United States. Hands down, this was attributed to Roland Martin Marina, the TV exposure from Roland’s shows, and the tournaments that were being brought in every weekend. In 1999, she let her son Scott run with an idea of building a tiki bar, which is today known as Scotty’s Tiki Bar and Grill, another detail of this elaborate dream and fits perfectly into a way of entertaining her customer like the fisherman, the yachter,and even the biker. All groups that patron this halfway point on the Okeechobee Waterway. Maryann was watching her vision come to fruition right before her eyes! As a way to continue offering a full service marina and cater to her customer, she bought Anglers Marina in 2004 what is now called Roland Martin Marine Center. She also started her 2nd RV park for those customers who enjoyed staying in their own home for months at a time. A lot of these snow birds have been coming down ever since she opened the doors....they are not just customers, they have become family and an intricate part of the growth in Clewiston. During the tumultuous times such as hurricanes and the excessive spraying affecting the health of our Lake, Mary Ann has been a voice for this massive body of water. She was among a group that started the first Committee ever to help protect the Lake known as the WRAC Committee, a division of South Florida Water Management where she has sat for over 20 years. She also attends meetings all around the lake to be a voice for this great pond, and to share her many years of expertise, and her passion for preserving this amazing fishery. She is a long time member of The First United Methodist Church and currently sits on the board of the WISH Foundation for Hendry Regional Medical Center. In Mary Ann’s spare time, which is not much, she enjoys traveling around the world. Her bucket list was to travel to all 7 continents and just recently she accomplished dream after touring the last continent which was Antarctica for three weeks. While many would say she has had more than her fair share of success, she would tell you that she's just getting started! She now enjoys the excitement of watching her children flourish in their lives and careers and loving on her 7 beautiful grandchildren, each one who holds a very special place in her heart. The young lady who started out working at a very young age in her Dad’s shoe store has certainly made a splash in this big world and we can't wait to see what else she has up her sleeve!