CARLSBAD – Martin Jordan “Stormy” Sexton, 81, a retired Marine colonel and the former tennis coach at four North County high schools, died Tuesday [June 1, 1999] at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla after a brief illness.
Sexton coached tennis at Oceanside, El Camino, Vista and Rancho Buena Vista high schools from 1972 until he retired in 1989 at age 71, winning numerous titles along the way. He started the ROTC program at Oceanside High School in 1970. His coaching prowess earned him a spot in the Oceanside Hall of Fame in 1983. He lived in Carlsbad.
“He was strict, but he was fair,” said his son, Steve Sexton of Oceanside. “He was a great father and a great person.”
“He was a gentleman, very kind,” said daughter-in-law Krista Sexton.
“He had that charm, where you would do anything for Stormy,” said Mike Garofolo, a family friend for 30 years.
Born March 14, 1918, in Baltimore, Md., Sexton went to the University of Maryland on a lacrosse scholarship. He played on NCAA championship teams there in 1939 and 1940, and was named an all-American in the sport in 1941.
After college he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant on Aug. 22, 1942. During his 28-year, 9-month military career, he served in the South Pacific, Korea and Vietnam, and earned a the Silver and Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and other awards.
A close-up photograph of Sexton’s face, his eyes squinting beneath his helmet, and a cigarette between his lips, was set to run on the cover of Life magazine when Marilyn Monroe died and her picture replaced his in 1963, Sexton’s family said.
They have copies of galley proofs of the cover photo and one-column story.
“The troops and I are happiest when we work our hardest,” Sexton said in the Life magazine article.
“I’m a dedicated Marine and I make no bones about it,” he said in the article. “It’s more than a profession. My wife is still shocked when I tell her that of my two responsibilities my first is to the Marines. It has to be that way. How else could I sleep and know for sure that my men are ready?”
Sexton remained a distance runner well into his 60s, covering as much as 100 miles a week. He regularly competed in five- and 10-kilometer races, often winning in his age category.
“All his life he was a competitor,” Steve Sexton said.
His wife of many years, Louise, died in 1985. He’s survived by his son Steve and another son, Mike, who lives in Mexico.
Graveside services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, June 7, at Eternal Hills Memorial Park.