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2023 Haupert Humanitarian Award

Gary Martell

Gary M. Martell ’76, P’07

The Haupert Humanitarian Award honors an alumna or alumnus who has rendered outstanding service in the cause of human welfare. The recipient’s service to humanity should achieve standards "above and beyond" the expected duties and responsibilities of the recipient’s career. In addition, the recipient should have made a positive difference in the lives of others, in the community in which he/she lives, or in the community at large.

The impact Gary M. Martell ’76, P’07 has had in the Moravian and Lehigh Valley communities transcends his more than five decades working with and coaching Lehigh Valley youth. His influence has been called immeasurable and immense, and many praise him for keeping them on a positive life path.

Gary grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Philadelphia, the youngest of four boys. He played sports in high school but readily admits he was not the best student. Following graduation, his father sent him to military school in Virginia—it was a game changer for Gary. He got his scores up, checked out area colleges, and came to Moravian in 1969, where he played football for four years and captained the team. Gary double majored in psychology and business administration, and freshman year, he met his wife Barbara (nee Hassler) ’73 of 46 years.

Gary signed as a free agent with the NFL and played three seasons with the Baltimore Colts. Shortly after, he reconnected with Moravian coach Rocco Calvo, who convinced him to help coach the football team. In 1974, he returned to Moravian, finished up his degree, and began his coaching career. In helping raise money for the athletic department, Gary was instrumental in starting the Blue and Grey Club and Moravian’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

Gary and his wife started raising their family in Bethlehem. In addition to coaching, Gary worked a few jobs but always wanted to have a greater impact. He spent some time in Philadelphia shadowing at a school for individuals with visual impairment and blindness. He enjoyed his experiences and decided to pursue the work as a career, so he applied for a similar position in the Lehigh Valley. While waiting for his interview, he chatted with another candidate who he noticed was visually impaired. Mid-interview, Gary rescinded his application, deferring to the other candidate who he felt needed the position more than he did. The opportunity was not lost—one of the interviewers served on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem (BGCOB) and invited Gary to apply for a bookkeeping position. Gary started working for the BGCOB in 1977.

According to the organization, Gary’s passion for athletics and engaging young people perfectly matched the mission of the BGCOB. He took on various responsibilities and roles, helped start and enhance dozens of programs, bolstered fundraising efforts, and strengthened the club’s relationship with the community, eventually advancing to the role of CEO. He led a successful capital campaign that funded the renovation of the club’s game room, class spaces, and gym—providing hundreds of young people with an updated space to play basketball, soccer, kickball, and other recreational activities. 

Gary retired from the BGCOB in 2019. To honor his 42-year career and dedication to the organization, a special gathering was held. Dozens of alumni returned to the facility to celebrate with current members and Gary’s family and friends. 

“[Gary’s] true impact is immeasurable and immense. Many Club alumni today attest that Gary was a father figure to them during their childhood years and how they are grateful for the positive life path he helped keep them on. He has helped drastically improve the lives of thousands of young people and their families during his 42 years with BGCOB,” says the organization.

Gary is still an assistant coach for Moravian football, and in his free time, he enjoys volunteering at the BCGOB.