It’s no surprise that you’re seeing so many good things written about Aaron Martens.
Sure, people tend to feel compelled to say good things about a person after they have passed. But this time, I assure you it’s genuine.
We all knew he was a great angler — a genius in many respects.
But Aaron was cherished by everyone who knew him because he was authentic, unassuming and loved everyone. He didn’t care if you were just some guy pumping gas next to him or a top pro angler. He treated everyone caringly.
I first met him not long after we started Phoenix Boat Company. A friend of Aaron’s called to tell me Aaron wanted to run a Phoenix.
I couldn’t believe it. I knew of Aaron and his fishing prowess and was humbled.
Of course, I said I was interested, and since we were a small company at the time, I wasn’t sure what we could do for him given his status in the professional bass fishing world.
Aaron called me shortly thereafter. He was on the water in Florida, and as most Aaron conversations go, he was all over the board. He talked about why he liked the boat, the bugs that were biting his legs and flying in his face and the fish he was catching all in the same sentence.
It was a conversation I will never forget. But that was Aaron.
All over the board? Absolutely. But I understood that because I am somewhat that way too as my mind wanders all over the place.
When he came to the plant to meet us, I knew instantly he was a great human being, a great angler who paid attention to the slightest of details and a person who never had any kind of ulterior agenda.
I never saw him show one hint of arrogance throughout his career. He had the genuiness of a young kid who never would say anything to hurt anyone and who carried a childlike innocence and love in his heart.
When I learned of his terminal illness, I called periodically to check on him. He would comment a little about the cancer and then say he felt good and wanted to go for a run.
But he always switched the focus on me. “How are you doing? You eating right, you staying healthy, getting out to run?”
That’s how all of our conversations went. He was always thinking about others and never showed one ounce of self-pity. The man channeled his adversity into caring about his fellow man.
The last time I saw him was the Friday before he died. Teresa and I drove to his house to see him. He lay there on the bed, moving one arm a little and struggling to talk. His wife Lesley said he knew I was there.
As I was getting ready to leave I could tell he was trying to say something.
Lesley listened closely and told me he said he loved me. It tore me up, but that’s who Aaron Martens was.
I must be honest. Like others who knew him, I’ve really struggled with his passing.
Recently, I asked a friend, “Why does this sort of thing happen to such good people like Aaron?”
“Because,” they said, “God likes to hang out with the cool people.”
My friend’s words gave me some solace, knowing that Aaron was in a better place and hanging out with cool people with whom he could continue to share his love.
He will be missed by everyone whose heart he has touched.