Willie Ray Martin

January 29, 1940 ~ March 15, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old

Willie Martin Obituary

Willie Ray Martin, was born on January 29, 1940 in Harperville, Mississippi. He was the eldest of three children born to Willie & Eula C. Martin. In 1948, Willie Ray and his family relocated to Indianapolis, IN, where he professed a faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ. Willie, affectionately known as ‘Bookie’ by his family, was an avid scholar and gifted athlete. He attended Indianapolis Public Schools #23, #60, and Shortridge High School, graduating in 1958. He then earned an academic scholarship to Indiana Central College, which is now known as the University of Indianapolis. 

As a proud Shortridge Blue Devil, Willie was involved in the athletic and music departments. He excelled at everything he did. He played the bass fiddle (as he called it) and sang in a musical quartet. Willie played football, wrestled, and ran track, earning many accolades. He graduated as State Runner-up in the 1958 State Wrestling meet.   

While attending Indiana Central College (University of Indianapolis), Willie continued as a three sport letterman in football, wrestling, and track. He caught the city bus and walked many miles to and from his home at 33rd and Graceland Avenue to the south side. This kept him fit, allowing him the endurance to excel athletically, earning him 12 letters and the Greyhound MVP in 1960, and co-captain in 1961. He was later honored and inducted into the University of Indianapolis Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986. Willie graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. 

Willie taught physical education at the historic Crispus Attucks High School from 1962-68, where he was an assistant football and wrestling coach. He was recognized in the Crispus Attucks Alumni Lettermen’s Club for his impact in coaching a wrestling state champion and runner up in 1963 and 1965, respectively. He also attended graduate school at Indiana University (IU), earning a graduate degree in Health & Safety in 1967. While at IU, Willie pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated and was mentored by many of his brothers.

After college, Willie had the opportunity to return to Indiana Central to work in the Admissions Office, becoming a recruiter, and later an assistant dean from 1968-70. He traveled around the Midwest developing the love of geography, navigation, and of course, driving. He spent many years being a driver’s education instructor both for IPS and a driving school, also teaching his children how to drive.  

Willie was a lifelong educator, spanning five decades. He spent the majority of his professional career working for the Indianapolis Public School System at Crispus Attucks, Arsenal Tech, Arlington, Broad Ripple, Northwest, and John Marshall schools. He was a physical education teacher, coach, and Athletic Director. He impacted many lives during his educational tenure. He was the head football coach at Tech High School from 1970-77. He became the first black Athletic Director in Indianapolis at Arlington High School from 1978-1993. Athletics was an integral part of Willie’s life. He co-founded the Security Dad’s program at Arlington. This program set a major precedent in the Indianapolis community and was later modeled by other schools. 

After Arlington, Willie made the rotational shift back to teaching and coaching at Broad Ripple High School. He then taught at Northwest, John Marshall, and finally returning to Tech where he retired in 2009. Willie also coached football and track in the Pike Township School District from 2003-09. He continued to substitute teach until 2016. Willie spent 67 years of his life working to support his family by doing what he enjoyed. He valued education and made his mark in the city of Indianapolis. 

Willie believed in being physically fit. He often maintained his physique by staying active outdoors and strengthening his core on a regular basis. Willie was charismatic and charming, never meeting a stranger. He enlightened and enhanced any space he encountered. He was a delight to be around and often shared about his life experiences and accolades, encouraging and inspiring others to aspire towards greater heights. 

Willie married his lifelong partner, Jean Anne Heylmann, and to this union were born William Paul and Rachel Anne. He also has two daughters, Vickie Lee and Melanie Lynn, from a previous marriage. As often referenced, faith, family, and football were the cornerstones of Willie’s life. Anyone who had the opportunity to talk with him, would hear about any of these topics. 

Willie Ray Martin departed this life on Friday, March 15, 2024. He is survived by his wife, Jean, and children, daughters: Vickie L. Davis, Melanie L. Martin-Terrell (Warren), and Rachel A. Martin, and son William P. Martin (Lacey); sisters, Queen Eva Rowe and Clematine Jones; grandchildren, Rashida Davis, Michael R. Davis, Mathew A. Davis, Jourdyn A. Terrell, Jazz A. Terrell, Tinley R. Martin, Paisley K. Martin, and Parker W. Martin, and a host of other relatives. 

All services will be held on Saturday, March 23 at the Solid Word Bible Church in Indianapolis, with visitation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The service will follow in the church at 1 p.m.  Inurnment will happen on a late date in Crown Hill Cemetery.   

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Flanner House of Indianapolis. 

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March 23, 2024

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Solid Word Bible Church
4374 W. 52nd Street
Indianapoils, IN 46254

Celebration of Life Service
March 23, 2024

1:00 PM
Solid Word Bible Church
4374 W. 52nd Street
Indianapoils, IN 46254


Flanner House
2424 Doctor M.L.K. Jr. Street, Indianapolis IN 46208
Tel: 1-317-925-4231


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