Mike Martin, owner of the Alpineer, and a beloved resident of Crested Butte, Colo., died Dec. 31 when the single-engine Cessna he was piloting crashed northeast of Payson, Ariz.
Forty-one-year-old Martin received his pilot's license in early 2005 and had made the flight from Gunnison to Scottsdale at least twice before, according to reports. Martin was flying to Scottsdale to visit his father who is seriously ill.
A search for the plane was initiated when Martin failed to arrive in Scottsdale as expected. The wreckage of the plane was found on Jan. 3. According to statements from the local sheriff's department, Martin did not survive the crash. It appears that the plane lost altitude and then struck a tree, which tore the wing off. The plane burst into flames upon impact, according to a statement from the sheriff's department.
Martin purchased the Alpineer in 2000 from Cutler Ferchaud and had just finished paying off the loan. In the five years, insiders tell us that Martin had more than doubled sales, in large part due to a very successful online business which included www.telemarkski.com.
ROI, a buying group made up of leading specialty retailers, had just confirmed it would accept Martin and the Alpineer as a new member on Dec. 27. Now, it appears, the ROI membership will be placed on hold until Martin's estate decides what to do with the store.
Kathy Martin, Mike's mother, is the executor of his estate and has instructed Alpineer buyers and management to continue to operate the store as usual for the time being, SNEWSÂ® has been told.
"Mike was such an important part of the Crested Butte community and the outdoor industry," David Matz, ROI executive director, told SNEWSÂ®. "He was widely quoted in magazines, always looking to lend a hand where neededâ€¦he was a standup guy that this industry can ill afford to lose. He will be very missed."
Mary Haskel, a long-time associate and friend of Martin, and currently a buyer for the Alpineer, told us, "He was involved in so many facets of this community that it was hard to keep them all straight. He was always donating so much of his 'free' timeâ€¦I don't know how he had any because he worked all the time too!"
Martin was one of the founding members of the Friends of Snodgrass Mountain, helped organize the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, and was a board member of the Crested Butte Music Festival.
In keeping with Martin's love of music and land, his mother has asked that any donations to honor Mike's life be sent to either the Crested Butte Music Festival or the Crested Butte Land Trust, an organization dedicated to maintaining local trails and preserving open space.
>> Crested Butte Music Festival, P.O. Box 2117, Crested Butte, CO 81224; 970-349-0619
>> Crested Butte Land Trust, P.O. Box 2224, Crested Butte, CO 81224; 970-349-1206