Thu, Jun 01, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Father George Martinson dies

SERVICE TO NATION:The priest who has dedicated more than 40 years of his life to local social causes was slated to receive a national identity card today

By Chen Bing-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

An undated photograph shows Father George Martinson, who died during the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend at the age of 75.

Photo: CNA

Father George Martinson, who was slated to receive his national identification card today for more than 40 years of extraordinary service to the nation, has died at the age of 75, the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference announced yesterday.

Martinson was also known as Uncle Jerry from his English teaching programs and his Chinese name Ting Sung-yun (丁松筠).

Father Cheng Juo-shih (程若石) said on Facebook that the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference was assisting coroners in ascertaining when Martinson passed away and the cause of death.

Martinson arrived in Taiwan in 1957 and is perhaps best known for his work with Kuangchi Program Service (光啟社) and Giraffe English, where he encouraged children to learn English.

As the vice president of the Kuangchi Program Service, Martinson had steered the service’s television programming toward social issues relating to Aborigines, immigrant spouses, migrant workers, physically and mentally disabled people, victims of natural disasters and marginalized people, the National Immigration Agency said.

Under Martinson’s guidance, Kuangchi has spread very positive and educational information to these groups, the agency added.

Martinson also oversaw the shooting of the documentary Beyond the Killing Fields: Refugees on the Thai-Cambodian Border (殺戮戰場的邊緣), which received the Best Documentary Award at the 1986 Golden Horse Awards and the Best Short Film Award at the 1987 Asia Pacific Film Festival.

The National Immigration Agency had scheduled an event today for the conferral of a national identity card to Martinson at the Kuangchi Program Service Building. The event is to proceed as scheduled, but is to be changed to a commemoration ceremony.

The Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference said it would play a video recapping Martinson’s experiences, while inviting his friends to share their memories.

The agency applied for Martinson to be naturalized after the amended Nationality Act (國籍法) took effect last year, which allows foreign nationals with outstanding contributions to Taiwan to be naturalized as a Republic of China citizens while retaining their original citizenship.

The agency said that Martinson chose to forgo his original surname and use his adopted surname Ting, which the agency said showed his identification with Taiwan.

Martinson’s brother, Barry, was among the first five individuals naturalized after the amendments.

Barry Martinson lives in Hsinchu’s Wufong Township (五峰), having moved there 42 years ago.

He has been involved with Aboriginal communities for many years and established the first nursery in the county’s mountainous region.

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