CALEDONIA — William Martin, a math teacher at Horlick High School, is continuing to hang onto life in Froedtert Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit after the freak accident that killed his wife on Oct. 20.
To support the family, Emaus Evangelical Lutheran Church redirected part of its annual fundraiser on Thursday in the hopes of relieving some of the financial burden from the accident.
On Oct. 20, William and Michelle Martin were driving along Four Mile Road in Caledonia when high winds caused a tree to fall over.
“As they were driving a tree just fell right on top of their car,” Caledonia Police Lt. Gary Larsen told The Journal Times.
Michelle died that day. William is still in critical condition at Froedtert in Wauwatosa and will likely necessitate long-term care.
Emaus Church hosts a wine and beer tasting fundraiser every year.
Retired pastor Mary Janz coordinated the event. She said the church usually raises several thousand dollars for its urban outreach program each year, and is willing to share the wealth to help out the Martins.
The fundraiser had already been scheduled to be held on Thursday at Hickory Hall, 5844 Douglas Ave., an event space previously named “The Roundabout.” Michelle was the banquet coordinator at Hickory Hall, and she had been working with the church for several weeks leading up to the fundraiser. An avid artist, two of Michelle’s paintings — mountainous landscapes in blue and grey hues — remain hung in the event space.
Janz felt she had to do something in Michelle’s honor after hearing about her untimely death.
“We got the tragic news and I said … ‘How about if we give a portion of what we make to the family?’” Janz said.
Danny Johnson, who employed Michelle for more than five years and owns Hickory Hall, approved of the idea.
As a result, supporters of the family and members of the church came together Thursday night to celebrate Michelle’s life, support William, and share fellowship.
“(The fundraiser) kind of morphed into something (new),” Janz said. “People are really working with us to make it a success.”
Janz said that usually only 50 or 60 people will attend the fundraiser. Thursday’s event started at 4:30 p.m. and was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. By 6 p.m., nearly 100 people were there, with more to arrive later on.
Danny’s Catering, also owned by Johnson, provided the food, and local singer Cheryl McCrary provided music and entertainment.
Money was raised via a 50/50 raffle and silent auction, with 10 percent of the earnings being set aside for the Martin family. The rest would still be collected by Emaus. A donation jar was filled with bills on the ticket table, with all of that money going directly to the Martin family.
Michelle had recently been featured in Wind Point Living magazine when she died.
Johnson said that he put his copy on her desk on Friday so that she could read the story about her and her work at Hickory Hall. She never got to read it.
In her honor, Johnson had the story framed. It was on display throughout Thursday’s fundraiser.