Iconic gospel music legend Bill “The Mailman” Martin transitioned to his heavenly home on Apr. 7. Mailman, as his radio audience, friends and family affectionately call him, slept away peacefully on Apr. 7. He rose to national fame as an executive board member of the Gospel Music Workshop of America Association. He was nominated for a Stellar Gospel Music Award, was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and received numerous other accolades.
Mailman was born in Asheville, North Carolina. After graduating from Stephens Lee High School, he moved to New York City. He was a music lover and played tenor saxophone. Pursuing a music career, he was accepted into the Julliard School of Music. Although elated over the opportunity to attend, Mailman made a last minute decision to serve our nation and joined the U.S. Air Force instead. He served in Korea, Japan and England. While assigned to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, he met the love of his life, Evelyn “Tutter” Franklin. Evelyn passed away on Oct. 23, 2005 after 50 years of marriage.
Mailman delivered his message on the radio for 34 years; he could be heard every Sunday on KLGO-The Word-1490AM. He joined the Gospel Music Workshop of America Announcers’ Guild in 1980. One of his most recent honors is the 2013 Central South Distribution Trailblazer Announcer of the Year Award, received in January at the 2013 Stellar Awards held in Nashville, Tennessee. He was also a nominee for the 2013 Stellar Award Announcer of the Year category.
Not only was he able to enjoy a long and distinguished musical career, but he also helped build and promote so many others. Gospel giants including Earnest Pugh, Earl Bynum, Chester D. T. Baldwin, Kathy Taylor and RiZen credit Mailman for launching their careers. He was a highly sought Master of Ceremonies and traveled near and far to conduct musical services.
A Deacon at the Saint James Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, Martin served the church faithfully for more than 50 years. During the unfolding years he was an elder, deacon, usher, department head, a member of the E.M. Franklin Male Chorus. Mailman served as the Pastor & Wife Anniversary Chairperson for 30 years.
A hole marks our city by Mailman’s departure, but we are grateful and the better for his many years of unselfish service to the Central Texas community.