Crye-Leike Auctioneer Martin Cummings Raises Over $1 Million for Charities During His Career

Nashville, Tenn. –  Ezell-Harding Christian School will be the last charitable group to benefit from veteran auctioneer Martin Cummings’ volunteer services. A principal auctioneer with Crye-Leike, Realtors, Mr. Cummings will retire from charity auctions after raising over $1 million during his 28-year- auction career for as many as 100 charities in Middle Tennessee. But, he is quick to add that he will continue with Crye-Leike, Realtors as principal broker, managing and selling real estate in Middle Tennessee as he has done for the past 26 years.

The crowning moment for Mr. Cummings will be the honor of auctioning a quilt handmade by 101-year-old Annie Johnston of Nashville at the school’s auction, Sat., October 13, 2001. The auction is part of the school’s annual fund-raiser, Fall Festival, which begins at 12:30 p.m.

Mrs. Johnston’s most recent handy work, made of the school’s colors in crimson and white, is the 20th quilt she has crafted for Ezell-Harding’s fund-raiser. Her connection with the school has been her grandchild and great grandchild, both of whom attended the school, as well as a relative on the board of directors. Mrs. Johnston will be 102 years old in January 2002.

“And this is her last!” exclaimed Anita Keith, auction chairman and president of the school’s Eagle Support Association. “An interested board member suggested that a price tag of $25,000 be placed on the quilt in hopes of that amount being raised. Plans are to display it at the school in Mrs. Johnston’s honor.”

Mr. Cummings started doing charity auctions when his daughter attended Ezell-Harding in 5th and 6th grade. Then, she transferred to Mt. Juliet Junior and Senior High Schools where she was a field commander in the school band for her last two years of school.

“Her school band was always in need of financial support for their band trips, so I was glad to help out by holding auctions for the school’s fund-raisers,” said Mr. Cummings. “I have been doing charity auctions for not-for-profits ever since and never charge them for my services.” He said that his latest charity auction was for Ducks Unlimited, a dinner and auction, which raised over $32,000 in one night.

Crye-Leike, Realtors entered the Nashville real estate market in September 1992. “I remember that day, Labor Day,” recalls Mr. Cummings. “Harold Crye, the co-founder of Crye-Leike in Memphis, shook my hand and recruited me as his first agent in Nashville to run the company’s first Nashville branch office at 1285 North Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet, the first firm licensed under Crye-Leike.”

Today, Crye-Leike of Nashville, Inc. has 20 branch and franchise offices in nine counties in Middle Tennessee with sales associates in the Greater Nashville area who currently total over 800. Crye-Leike of Nashville, Inc. recorded 7,491 units sold in 2000, representing a sales volume of $1.08 billion.

To become a practicing auctioneer, the Tennessee Auction Commission requires auction agents to apprentice for two years under a master auctioneer. Mr. Cummings has had over twenty auction agents apprentice under him during his career.

According to school estimates, Mr. Cummings has raised over $250,000 for Ezell-Harding Christian School during the past 20 years he has conducted auctions for their school’s annual fund-raiser, reports Mrs. Keith. Parents have expressed concern of Mr. Cummings’ announcement that this would be his last auction for Ezell-Harding Christian School as well as other charity auctions.

“This may be the last charity auction I am responsible for, but I am not letting them down,” said Mr. Cummings. “I am turning it over to the younger group.” His son-in-law, Brandon Gunnels, a master auctioneer who is also affiliated with Crye-Leike, Realtors, “will follow in my footsteps,” he says, while Mr. Cummings’ daughter, Rachel, who is married to Brandon, is currently enrolled in real estate school to become Brandon’s real estate assistant.

Crye-Leike (, a full service real estate company, has an auction division, Crye-Leike Auctions, which sells all types of real estate, including residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural, in Tennessee with the opportunity to auction in most other states upon request.

Crye-Leike is the nation’s 13th largest real estate company and the largest serving Tennessee and the Mid-South. It has a network of over 2,200 sales associates and 54 branch and franchise offices located in 26 counties throughout a four-state Mid-South region in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Georgia.

Ezell-Harding Christian School, a private, Christian school located in Antioch, Davidson County, will hold its Fall Festival & Auction on Sat., October 13, 2001, 12:30 p.m. until approximately 6 p.m. in the middle school gymnasium at 574 Bell Road. Open to the public and free of charge, the fund-raiser, organized by Eagle Support Association, offers for sale crafts and bake goods, activities for the children as well as an array of donated goods and services that will be auctioned for the benefit of the school. School proceeds will be used to improve the school’s facilities, computer technology as well as support the activities of the school band and athletic department.