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Neil Henry Martens

September 6, 1930 June 13, 2020
Neil Henry Martens
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Obituary for Neil Henry Martens

Long-time Anchorage resident, Neil Henry Martens, age 89, died peacefully, in Anchorage, AK, on June 13th, 2020 with his loving wife Shirley by his side.

Neil was born on September 6, 1930, in Chicago, IL, to Evelyn (d. 1935) Johnson and Henry (d. 1992) Martens.

The next year, their young family moved back to Persia, Iowa, where the larger Martens family had settled after immigrating from Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in the 1880s.

Neil spent his childhood in Persia until the early 1940s when the entire family journeyed to Anchorage to join the Gill side of their family. In the fall of 1944, he entered the freshman class of Anchorage High School where he was a member of the ski team. He graduated in 1948.

In 1951, he received his draft notice for the Korean War and returned to Alaska from Oregon, where he was going to college, to be stationed at Ft. Richardson. In 1954, after fulfilling his military obligation and with assistance from the G.I. Bill, Neil enrolled at the University of Washington where in 1959 he graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering.

While in Anchorage during the summer of 1956 he was introduced by local friends to a pretty Alaska Airlines stewardess named Shirley Maher. They met on a blind date at the Anchorage Park Strip tennis courts which was both the first and last time Neil ever played tennis but not the last time he saw Shirley. In fact, they hit it off well enough that they got married in 1958. Their first son Glen was born in 1959.

After graduation, Neil went to work as a civil engineer for The Boeing Company but moved the family back to Anchorage six months later. After working for a small local engineering firm, he was hired by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1962. He was employed there until retirement in 1996. During his career with the FAA Neil supervised the construction of runway facilities, approach lighting systems, and control towers. He recalled fondly those days of flying around Alaska to nearly every village and town equipped with a runway. In his early adult years, he also worked as a surveyor. Neil passed up numerous opportunities for promotions within the FAA that would have required moving from his beloved Alaska, but never had a regret.

Along the way, three more children joined the family: Dale (1962), Kurt (1963) and Andra (1966). Neil and Shirley have remained in the same home for 58 years.

Over the years, Neil enjoyed downhill skiing, hunting, the FAA bowling league, golf, Pinochle on Sundays, and camping and hiking trips with his family. He was a regular usher at Anchorage Lutheran Church and a Trustee there for many years. The pizza he made from scratch every Saturday was legendary.

In retirement, he and Shirley took vacations to Hawaii and Palm Springs in addition to visits to family in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. He enjoyed the many gatherings with the large extended Martens/Gill family that included yearly traditions like Thanksgiving dinners at his uncle Leonard’s Milky Way restaurant and 4th of July celebrations at his uncle Wally’s and uncle Arnold’s Wasilla Lake cabins.

Through it all there were common themes: Love, honesty, commitment, humor, and loyalty to family. He lived life to the fullest, was kind to everyone, always ready with a joke and a hug, and put his family first. He loved fully and was a true gentleman.

Along with Shirley, Neil is survived by his four children and ten grandchildren that include Glen Martens (wife Jan), and their children, Nicholas and Anna; Dale Martens (wife Teresa) and their children, Katie Geraty (husband Cory) and Jennie; Kurt Martens (wife Kristen) and their children, Lindsey, Lauren, and Paige; Andra Martens-Nirenberski (husband Scott) and their children, Carson, Austin, and Logan. And his sisters, Joan Burns of Tacoma, WA, Carol Trotman (husband Maurie) of Kitty Hawk, NC, and Sharon Ksander of Alexandria, VA.

Shirley would like to thank his caregivers for their care and concern during his last days. We will gather with friends and family for a graveside service at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, on June 30th at 2 pm, followed by a celebration of his life. Pastor Tony Schultz of Anchorage Lutheran Church will officiate.

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2:00 PM 6/30/2020 2:00:00 PM - 3:00 PM 6/30/2020 3:00:00 PM
Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery

535 East Ninth Street
Anchorage, AK 99501

Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery
535 East Ninth Street Anchorage 99501 AK
United States

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