Edna Martin dies

animal rights advocate founded shelter

July 20, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

Edna Martin, founder of Lulu Belle Animal Memorial Haven and a still-practicing 98-year-old El Centro real estate agent, died Thursday night in her sleep.

She will be remembered by her colleagues and friends as a strong-willed and aggressive businesswoman who loved animals.

After working in Hawaii as a secretary for the Navy during World War II, Martin made a name for herself in El Centro as a real estate agent.

Her friend and fellow animal advocate Jean Schmitt said she was at one time the leading ranch real estate person in Southern California.

Real estate agent Don Rosson said that Arizona native Martin, even in her 90s still called him to ask if there was "any farmland for sale."


In the last 15 years, Martin used the energy she had devoted to real estate and the substantial amount of money she had made from the profession to start and keep running the Lulu Belle haven.

What started as affection for one basset hound named Sam grew into a haven for more than 200 dogs and 100 cats.

Andy Arellano, the manager of the haven, said 100 cats and 100 dogs are given food and shelter in pens there today.

Martin's policy for Lulu Bellle — no healthy animal killed — makes it unique from the local Humane Society shelter, according to Schmitt.

"We don't kill anything. No animals are ever put down and they live to be a ripe old age," Schmitt said.

She said Martin became disenchanted with the Humane Society and started her own shelter.

As she reached her 80s and 90s Martin sold land holdings to support the shelter on Dogwood Road between Aten and Worthington roads.

Arellano isn't sure if the shelter will stay open now that she is gone.

"I don't know. I have no idea," he said.

She was preceded in death by three husbands and a sister. She had no children.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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