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Nickerson Funeral Home

77 Eldredge Park Way, Orleans, MA

OBITUARY

James H. Martin

September 27, 1933December 1, 2019

James H. Martin passed peacefully on Sunday morning, December 01 2019 at home in Eastham, MA. Jim, as he was also known, lived his life on his own terms, including a decision to spend his last three years enjoying life rather than undergoing additional cancer treatments.

Born on dairy farm in Baraboo, WI on September 27 1933, Jim literally travelled the world, always learning and always curious. He had no strangers in his world - only interesting people he had not yet met.

After a short stint at the University of Wisconsin, he enlisted in the US Navy. He served first on surface craft, until he joined the submarine service as a sonar man. When he was in his 80s, he was inducted into the Holland Club, a recognition for 50 years of submarine certification.

He spent a 20 year career in the Navy and an additional 20 years with the Department of Defense. He worked in Japan, Greece, Monaco, Hawaii, Guam, Spain, Scotland, and many other locations, serving his country tirelessly while based out of his long-term home in Ledyard CT. After retirement he remained active in military life and served as the New England president of the Fleet Reserve Association in the early 1990s.

He was married to Pearl (Jonek) and later to Nancy (Goodman). He and Nancy split their time between Ledyard and St. Petersburg. In Florida, some of his best memories were with his friends from the KOA snowbird community. He nursed Nancy through her illness, and after her death continued splitting his time between Connecticut and Florida.

The loss of his youngest daughter, Rosalind Ann, in 2015, hurt and left him deeply sad, but he did not become bitter or angry. He kept focused on the happy memories. He fought one round of cancer, losing his eye in the process, and after that decided that instead of additional hospital and medical time he would live life to its fullest. He eventually spent his days with his daughter in Eastham, MA, living - as he always lived - with an embrace of the world and all in it.

He is survived by his daughter Teresa and grandaughter Allegra, of Eastham MA.

Services

16 December

A Celebration of Life will be held

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Nickerson Funeral Home

77 Eldredge Park Way
Orleans, Massachusetts 02653

16 December

Graveside Service

1:30 pm

Massachusetts National Cemetery

Connery Ave
Bourne, Massachusetts 02665

Memories

James H. Martin

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FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

On the USS Robinson (DD-562) - through Panama Canal 1953

FROM THE FAMILY

Formal Naval portrait

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and Mom (Pearl) in San Diego. 1959?

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and granddaughter Allegra when Allegra a little - at one of the many visits to Mystic Aquarium.

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and Teresa - at a visit to the submarine museum in Groton CT. Dad gave a great tour!

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Baby Jimmy and his pup in the Wisconsin snow

FROM THE FAMILY

Young James - hair the same as ever!

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and his brothers - as little ones! He's on the front left.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

On the USS Robinson (DD-562) - through Panama Canal 1953

FROM THE FAMILY

Formal Naval portrait

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and Mom (Pearl) in San Diego. 1959?

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and granddaughter Allegra when Allegra a little - at one of the many visits to Mystic Aquarium.

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and Teresa - at a visit to the submarine museum in Groton CT. Dad gave a great tour!

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Baby Jimmy and his pup in the Wisconsin snow

FROM THE FAMILY

Young James - hair the same as ever!

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad and his brothers - as little ones! He's on the front left.

Biography

When my daughter, Allegra, studied for the SATs, she learned the vocab word AFFABLE. Her example sentence read:

“My Grandpop is an affable gentleman.”

That sentence checked all the boxes: Friendly. Easy to talk to. Good natured. Agreeable. Because that’s her grandpop, James Harold Martin.

When you’re an affable sort, the twists and turns of life become a series of adventures, each a chance to meet and greet the world. I mean, who’d have thought that the fourth son from a Baraboo Wisconsin dairy farm, born in the depth of the Great Depression back on September 27 1933 would ride a thread that went around the world and back again?

My dad looked out beyond the dairy farm and took at stab at college – geology always fascinated him. But -- he couldn’t afford it. Instead of growing angry at the imbalance of the world, affable types find another way forward ... so he took on a job as a hospital orderly. That led to a new interest – maybe he could become a nurse ... or an anesthesiologist! He enlisted in US Navy. He said he hoped he might become a medic... but ships in the 1950s needed strong young bodies. He found himself on a destroyer in the Suez Canal.

Once again, he embraced what life sent his way – and saw every twist as an opportunity. When the ship visited port, he didn’t stop just at port bars ... he let his curiosity and agreeable nature take him exploring ... skiing in the Alps, breathing the air of new cities, always open to the possibilities of the world.

He grew through the service, eventually finding himself on a small boat gliding on a river in Southeast Asia. One day he looked around ... and in one of those life shifting moments, realized the people with the guns tucked into the trees lining the river banks wanted to kill the people riding in the boats. For the first and possibly only time in his life, he drew on a favor, made an ask, and literally 24 hours later found himself heading to the submarine service ... and a whole new life UNDERwater.

From a posting in Key West, we spent evenings at the pier, pulling up nets of langouste, watching barracuda zip along, parrotfish float by, and schools of grunts parade through the middle. At sunset the sound of Taps echoed through the tropical dusk across the Navy base and we paused everything and stood at attention. That same year, I got to ride to kindergarten on a red scooter, with my own helmet, sitting behind what every kid agreed must the worlds coolest dad.

He learned the art and science of sonar. From his post, he listened to the sea. He talked about the squeaks and booms of fish, described the soaring songs of whales, and taught me that the ocean reverberates with sounds of its own watery life as well as the splash humans. The affable path brought him to places few have had the privilege to swim.

As the years went on, he moved from the Navy to the Department of Defense -- and as he deployed, he explored ... and he sent back stacks of postcards, each bearing a little snapshot of the endless potential of the world. Scotland. Japan. Guam. Greece. Hawaii. Monaco.

We often think life should be intentional - a strategic plan executed in careful sequenced segments. But I would argue in favor of an affable life – one where nothing lies blocked in or blocked out.

It takes an affable life to dive into a pool and haul out a drowning stranger for no reason other that it’s the right thing to do.

It takes an affable life find the same joy in growing tomatoes as in solving a complex electronics challenge.

It takes an affable life to engage in competitive cribbage with a gleeful wink with the same passion as pedaling a St Pete Florida bikeway, with equal appreciation for all well met along the way.

Don’t think for a second that affable means weak or soft, either. This type of path brings resiliency and flexibility, drawing power from its very own agreeable nature. In the reality of life, sad things, painful things happen. Divorce. Loss of spouse. Worse of all , loss of a child - my sister who died at 47. That was so hard, so painful, a loss magnified when in the very same week his last remaining brother died, at the same time he himself finished a brutal round of radiation.

But the affable life IS resilient. It doesn’t let hurt turn bitter, it doesn’t let pain shut down living. No matter what, Dad found a way to smile and thru that smile connect with everyone -- because there are No Strangers in this world. An affable life builds a great ripple effect leading to a wave of possibility that brings us all along with it.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

I will always have a dad-shaped hole in my soul -- but all is not bleak. Although I will feel it every day, I also know that within it blossoms the lessons I learned from growing up with that model and experiencing the kind of life where:

Kindness brings greater power than being right or rich,

A sense of humor and willingness to laugh brings a strength greater than steel,

An openness to connect brings a bounty and a beauty that all the strategic plans in the world can’t replicate.

Affable. Definition: Jim, a man with a well-lived, well-loved affable life.