Mystery man who saved the day for Pismo tourists is identified

clambert@thetribunenews.comMay 6, 2013 

Debbie Nance poses with Bob, a local resident who saw someone stealing her purse from a car and alerted police.

COURTESY PHOTO

The mystery of the Good Samaritan has been solved.

Shortly after an article was published about a Colorado couple hoping to thank a local man for his actions during a burglary in 1991, two San Luis Obispo County residents called to identify the man as Bob Martin, an Avila Beach resident who died in 2011.

“He was always helping people out,” said Mary Matakovich, one of Martin’s former neighbors. “So reading a story like this made me smile.”

Martin was pictured in a 1991 photograph emailed to The Tribune by Dana and Debbie Nance of Fort Collins, Colo.

Debbie Nance’s purse was stolen from the couple’s rental car when they stopped in Pismo Beach during a trip up the coast. Martin, who observed the burglary, went to the police station and made a report. A police officer spotted the suspect and returned the purse to the couple, who found that nothing had been taken.

The Nances met Martin and posed for a photo, but never got his last name. Years later, Dana Nance was looking through photos and decided to try to find Martin to thank him.

Another former neighbor, Michele Martin, who is not related to Bob Martin, also called and identified him as the Good Samaritan. She confirmed that Martin died in October 2011.

According to an obituary published in The Tribune, Bob Martin was born in San Luis Obispo and went to school at Avila’s one-room schoolhouse and San Luis Obispo High School. He graduated from Cal Poly with an engineering degree.

His brother, Perry Martin, said Bob Martin, 75, worked for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. His “most recent and cherished project,” his obituary stated, was preservation of the Avila School House, and he was a founder of the “SOS (Save our School)” group.

“We talked a lot about history and things like that,” said Pete Kelley, Matakovich’s husband, who served on an Avila Valley Advisory Council subcommittee with Bob Martin.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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