Jim Martin was born on October 8, 1947, in Beatrice, Nebraska. His grandfather William Wildhaber was a physician and he attended Jim’s birth. Jim was the first child of his mother, Gretchen Louise Wildhaber Martin, a homemaker. Jim’s father was Jim Martin II, a World War II veteran, lawyer and businessman.
Jim is survived by his partner, Becky Thomas; Sarah Martin and Suzan Maughan-Martin; daughters Andrea Martin and Megan Martin; son-in-law Mike Stock; grandsons Ravon Martin and Elijah Stock; nieces Olivia Anson, Lindsay Donahue, Emily Laning and Alyssa Koestner; nephew Jim Anson; sisters Nancy Anson and Lisa Koestner; and mother Gretchen Martin.
Jim grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado – a trail leading up to them was only ¼ mile from his front door and he spent his youth exploring them, as well as teasing his sisters and reading widely. He showed an early talent for art and took drawing and painting lessons from a young age. He spent his summers in Nebraska with his grandparents Willie and Louise. He went on house calls with Willie and also developed a love of farmland and farming there. He graduated from Boulder High School. Jim was a classically rebellious and transformation-seeking member of the flower child generation. He attended Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he met his first wife, Sarah Martin. They lived on Grand Mesa, where Jim worked as a ski instructor at Powderhorn and he fished and hunted avidly. The couple enjoyed hiking and doing leathercraft together. They had a son, Colbran Martin, who died at birth. A year later they welcomed their daughter Megan Martin. The couple parted ways, but both resided in Moab, Utah. At the Moab Arts Festival, he met the little girl who would become his adopted daughter. Andrea saw Jim interacting with baby Megan and admired the loving care there. Andrea tugged on his shirt tail and asked him if he would be her Daddy. He laughed, she took his hand and brought him over to meet her mom, Suzan. Suzan worked at the Tea House Tamarisk and they slowly got to know each other. Two years after meeting, they started dating and later married. The couple loved to cook and travel. Over the years they built a house in breathtaking Castle Valley, Utah. Andrea shares his mechanical aptitude, and they spent many hours building and fixing things together. Megan loved walking, talking about books and sketching with her father. Jim had many beloved dogs over the years and is survived by Ranger. Jim enjoyed witnessing his grandsons Ravon and Elijah explore adulthood and had hoped to do construction or farming projects with them.
Jim did a variety of jobs over the years, including ski instruction, river guiding, surveying, working at Rio Algom and managing the famous Poplar Place. He had a real knack for welding and was one of the only certified pipe fitters in the area. Jim was highly respected in that field. He also managed his family’s farms in Nebraska and Kansas. He fell in love with excavation and enjoyed describing the arts of using a backhoe and dump truck. Through his company, Abajo Excavation, he created driveways and septic systems throughout SW Utah and the Telluride area. A road trip was never short on memories of roads he had traversed and houses he had worked on. Jim was a dreamer who had the adventurous spirit so common to those who settled the Mountain West, and over the years he explored projects like panning for gold in the Colorado Rockies, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, shooting, growing echinacea for tinctures, sailing and deep sea fishing in Mexico. As one friend put it: he was larger than life in frame and enthusiasms. Jim was interested in economics and politics and had libertarian views. His passion for painting persisted, and he left a gorgeous array of Impressionist-inspired landscape oil paintings. He loved to travel, especially with friends, many of whom were lifelong. Jim passed away suddenly in his home in Castle Valley due to a cardiovascular event. He and Becky were enjoying their shared love of art and rockhounding in recent years. They were renovating their property in Bruneau, Idaho.
A memorial celebration of Jim’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, at Lions Park at the corner of state Route 128 and Highway 191. Friends are invited to attend and asked to bring a potluck beverage, appetizer, entree or dessert. No alcohol and no dogs are allowed at the park. Jim will be buried in Beatrice, Nebraska, in the family plot at a later date.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com.