Skip Martin was an average guy with an average life until he learned how to navigate the grant application process of Oklahoma’s State Resource and Environmental Commission (SREC). If you met him on the street, nothing would make him seem out of the ordinary. He spoke with a soft Southern accent. His neatly trimmed mustache matched his salt-and-pepper gray hair. He was six feet four inches tall with a muscular build — except for a little gut his wife blamed on drinking a few too many longnecks every evening. Martin usually wore cowboy boots, jeans and a blue denim shirt. When his wife complained about him wearing work shirts every day, he kidded her, “It’s my best color. All the women tell me the soft blue matches my eyes.”
He and Claudean were married the year after their high school graduation. They had dated since junior high when he ran into her — literally — at a football game. She was a cheerleader and he was a wide receiver. He had gone out to catch a pass and she was on the sidelines with her back to the field. After jumping up to catch the ball, Martin lost his balance as he came down and stumbled into the line of cheerleaders, knocking Claudean off her feet. He picked her up, making sure she was okay. Martin joked with his teammates, “I didn’t catch that ball, but I caught the best-looking girl at the game!”
Martin was a truck driver most of his adult life. A week after high school graduation, ...