Jets Fan Gary Martin Cleans Up, Takes Charge Of Vince Lombardi’s NJ Grave

NEW YORK (WFAN) — One surprising fan has taken the care of NFL icon Vince Lombardi’s grave site into his own hands.

And guess what? He roots for the Jets.

“If not for the devotion of … Gary Martin, Lombardi’s New Jersey burial plot would be over-run with bushes and barely recognizable,” Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette reported on Thursday.

According to Vandermause, it was Lombardi’s former secretary, Lori Keck, who made the discovery this weekend at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown Township, N.J.

“He’s a remarkable man,” said Keck. “Who else would spend years of their life taking care of the gravesite of somebody they didn’t know, was not a family member, got no recognition and no remuneration, just because he cared and respected Vince Lombardi?”

Before the Parsippany, N.J. native took on the task, Lombardi’s grave was in “total disarray.”

“I was absolutely amazed that no one (had been) taking care of the gravesite,” Keck said. “I don’t want to create any problems here, but I’m very surprised that the family wasn’t doing it. He’s an icon and the Super Bowl trophy is named after him. Somebody ought to be taking care of that gravesite.”

“The grave was in total disarray,” said Martin. “You couldn’t even read his name. It was totally overgrown. It took a lot of work. You can’t believe the work it takes.”

Martin tries to visit the site once a month. Outside of taming the bushes that adorn the NFL legend’s grave, he selectively removes mementos left by visiting fans.

“If there’s anything from any other team I always take it away,” he said. “I just leave the Green Bay Packers stuff laying here. I think that’s what he would want.”

But why, considering the 3-hour round trip drive, would he do it?

“(Lombardi’s) the guy that really brought professional football to the table, and the Super Bowl,” Martin explained. “I think he was a true leader of men, and I have to respect that. I noticed that nobody ever took care of his grave. So I felt like I was obligated to do that for all the joy he gave me.”

How about that Gary Martin? Sound off on his NFL fandom below…

  • steve Keller

    John Arnone, you said yourself it was overgrown and not recognizable! To us in the mid-west that is a grave in disarray. Something is wrong with you folks out East! Your a real man Mr. Martin!

  • John O.

    I am the person who attends all the Packers games as “St. Vince” and I found this story to be remarkable. Gary Martin hit it right on the head – that it’s not about what team you support (in his case the Jets), but a love of the game and the respect he has for a man that did so much for that game as well as the National Football League.
    Gary Martin shows his respect for the man and what he did for so many people by tending to his resting place. Whether that takes five minutes or five hours of his time is irrelevant. It’s a touching story. The NFL isn’t nor should be obligated to maintain Lombardi’s or any other coaches gravesite, but for doing something as genuine and just down right NICE as this, I think it would be fitting for the Green Bay Packers or the NFL to treat him to an all expense paid trip with tickets to Lambeau Field the next time the Jets play there. Then the only problem would be who he should be rooting for! God Bless you, Gary Martin! St. Vince NFL Fan HOF – 2000

  • ericiz

    Thank you John. I too am a 2nd cousin to the late great coach. He was my Dad’s Godfather. Although I am 4 hours away…I will try to take it up with members of the proud izzo family to see if we can come up with a plan. Good job !

  • theresa golat

    i will forward this to a family member – vince lombardi was my second cousin; his mother and my grandfather were brother and sister
    thank you Mr Martin for looking out!

  • ginger j


  • Ellen

    God bless this wonderful man.

  • Jim S

    Gary Martin, that’s a wonderful deed you carried out. God Bless.

  • Arty

    You would think his Family would have someone look after his grave. Children owe that to their parents.

    • Joan Brady Fitton

      feel badly, because he was married to my Father`s cousin s Marie Planitz and her brother and Marge and Gus Planitz , of Fair haven, N>J> (Joan Brady Fitton) Trumbull CT

  • TONY

    John, so your putting down a good deed of mr. martin. why? very selfish comment! hey John how many weeds did you pick up when you passed vince’s grave over the last 15 years?

    I think the Green Bay packers management should step up and flip the bill, for their best head coach!

  • Timone

    John, what is really the point of your comment?

  • John Arnone

    My parents are buries next to Vince Lombardi in Middletown, NJ. I have pretty much seen his grave site for the last 15 years on a regular basis. In its worst day, it wasn’t that bad, it just had shrubs in front of it and you couldn’t see who’s grave it was. I have a current picture of his grave and also a picture of it after the Super Bowl this year. If you would like for me to forward them, please give me an e-mail to send them to you.

    John from Red Bank, NJ

    • Scott Sieleman

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