To me the definition of greatness is summed up in one name, Tony Martone. He was a community activist along with his wife Patty. He was a behind-the-scenes organizer. I remember the article about him cleaning the Mastodons that were sprinkled through out the city because of them having been defaced by vandals. I know of so many things he has done for Fort Wayne and more importantly the kids of Fort Wayne that are too numerous to mention. A framed silk pennant hanging of the “mythical” 1950 state championship team that Tony quarterbacked along with a picture of the team taken that night still hangs in the Green Frog on Spring Street.
I have had the honor of knowing Tony for 25 years, which happens to coincide with my tenure as a PAL football coach. He was not only my mentor but my friend as well. Over my career I sought his advice and wisdom many times, especially after I became a head coach. He was firm in his conviction, but would still listen to opposing viewpoints as long as it was good for the kids.
Therein laid his passion — kids. He saw PAL as a tool to reach them through football. Much the same as when he used baseball when he started several youth leagues in Fort Wayne years ago. Everything he did was for the kids first, then the league.
He was hardnosed, goodness knows I experienced that, but he was compassionate as well, and I experienced that, too.
He has gone on to his greater reward and is with his beloved Patty once again. While happy for him, I am sad for PAL as we will miss his leadership dearly. His passing leaves behind shoes that can never be filled, but he left us footsteps that can be followed — for the kids.
Chris Brown, coach “Animal” PAL Raiders