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Obituaries » Dorothy M. Martin

Dorothy M. Martin

February 3, 2019


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Dorothy M. Martin, wife of Donald R. Martin of Petaluma, California, passed away Sunday,
February 3, a marriage of over 65 years. Dorothy was born October 11, 1925, the daughter of
Mr. and Mrs. James McElheny of Grand Rapids, Michigan the first of nine children and the only
girl. Don and Dorothy were married over 65 years.

Dorothy’s father was a brick mason and during the depression, times were hard. The
McElhenys were poor (just like everyone else) but they were a hardworking and loving family.
Dorothy was bright, and despite the appeals of her school teachers, Dorothy quit school at age
16 to earn money for her family. She worked for the telephone company, Winkleman’s
Department Store, and as a nursery school teacher – often she worked two jobs at a time.
Frequently on her way home from work she would toss pennies to the neighborhood kiddies.

Dorothy’s family was Protestant. As a teenager she felt the need for something more
spiritual. She energetically searched and found the Catholic church was the answer. Her
enthusiasm was contagious, and soon, her father and mother were converted, as were all of her
living brothers.

In the summer of 1950 she met her intended life-mate, Donald Martin, who had just
completed his first year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Dorothy was a
beautiful girl, but Don recognized an indefinable internal spirit which convinced him Dorothy
would make an excellent wife and mother. He proposed. Dorothy was impressed but hesitated
when she discovered Don was prohibited marriage until after graduation, three years later. Love
won out, and they were married at West Point in June 1953.

Don and Dorothy were sent to the Panama Canal Zone for their first assignment. Here,
their first son, Thomas, was born. Tom was soon followed by the first daughter, Laura. After
three years, Don and Dorothy returned to Fort Rucker in the U.S. and second son, Michael joined
the growing family. Next while Don attended the Infantry School at Fort Benning, second
daughter, Jean arrived.

The Army next sent Don and Dorothy to Cleveland for duty with the ROTC unit at John
Carrol University. Here, Don’s three year tour was cut short and he was sent to Vietnam… but
not before daughter, Mary, and a year later, Maureen joined.

The duties of an Army wife are hard. Often her husband would be gone on training
assignments overnight and frequently weeks and months at a time. Dorothy, though challenged,
took it in stride. After all, Dorothy had been the oldest of nine children, and she was an expert
at handling the young ones. It was back to Grand Rapids while Don spent a year overseas.

After Vietnam, the family moved to California and then to Panama again. This time the
children were old enough to enjoy this tropical playground. As the first two had, the last of
Dorothy’s seven children, Donald, was born in Panama

Don was summoned to Vietnam for another year, and Dorothy and the children again
returned to Grand Rapids. After Vietnam Donald was assigned to the Presidio of San Francisco
where he retired.

In retirement, Donald and Dorothy settled at Petaluma, California. For the remainder of
her life, Dorothy kept busy making a home for her large family. As the children grew older, she
often helped Don in his activities. There were times for travel and visiting places they had only
read about in books, and never dreamed they would see.

She particularly enjoyed reading. Later, when her eyes dimmed, she and Don listened to
books on discs together. She also wrote an interesting book of her own titled: “Growing up in
the Army” in which she describes her and her children’s life and adventures.

Dorothy’s greatest pride was her family. She and husband, Don, often remarked how
proud they were of their children. She stated, “If I had a blueprint to order specifications for a
family, I could not have improved upon you. Each of you in a different way have brought a
richness to our lives that no one else could have done.”

She was a generous wife and partner, a caring and loving mother, grandmother, and great
grandmother: a beautiful human being.

Dorothy is survived by her loving husband of 65 years: Donald, and:
Son, Thomas John Martin, Gig Harbor, Washington
Daughter, Laura Ann Folden, Santa Rosa, California
Son, Michael Charles Martin, Venice, Florida & Fenton, Missouri
Daughter, Jean Elisabeth Bisel, Petaluma, California
Daughter, Mary Louise Martin, Rohnert Park, California
Daughter, Maureen Ellen Martin, Rohnert Park, California
Son, Donald James Martin, Hoquiam, Washington
And by 14 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.