The world has lost Jim Martine. Jim passed away two weeks shy of his 81st birthday, September 21, 2019 in Seattle, Washington surrounded by his wife and three daughters.
James Ronald Martine, Jr. was born on October 5, 1938 in Seattle to James and Millicent (Johnson) Martine. He was the first born of their three children and the great-grandson of former Seattle Mayor and longest sitting judge in King County Superior Court, Judge James T. Ronald. Jim grew up in an old farmhouse on then rural Mercer Island. He was a childhood friend with FDR’s grandson, often catching a ride to school with the secret service. On an after-school playdate Jim (or Jimmy as he was known) met FDR in the kitchen of his friend’s home. The Marshall Island postage stamp he showed FDR from a letter he carried in his backpack would ultimately end up in FDR’s personal collection and on display in FDR’s presidential library. Since there was not a high school on Mercer Island, Jim attended Bellevue High School with a tight knit group of Mercer kids. The Mercer kids remained lifelong friends, especially “The Mercer Boyz” as they were known then and still call themselves to this day.
After graduating in 1956 Jim became a deep breathing “Whitty”, attending Whitman College and earning a degree in Educational Psychology. He followed in his father’s footsteps pledging Beta Theta Pi fraternity and most monumentally, met his college sweetheart Sylvia Smith. Jim and Sylvia graduated and then married in 1960. That same year they moved to Quantico, Virginia where Jim attended Marine Corps Officers Candidate School. In 1961 he was commissioned a 2ndLT and became a father when their first daughter Tracey, was born. Jim spent 4 years in the Marine Corps creating more lifelong friends and just missed involvement in VietNam. In 1965 their second daughter Lynn, was born followed by a third daughter, Karin, in 1969. He was extremely proud of his three daughters. He loved being a dad and his daughters grew into teens and adults he would often stop to talk to dads he would see with three young daughters to commiserate and laugh.
Although Jim initially planned to be a teacher and was offered a teaching position after college graduation, he instead chose to enter the printing industry like his father and grandfather. With his close business partner and backing of Heath Printers he co-founded Instacolor in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, creating a groundbreaking approach to color printing. Jim loved traveling to new places, expanding his brain with new things and meeting new people. He was sincerely interested when he would ask “So, what’s your story?”. He was a philosopher who enjoyed thinking about the big questions of the universe and discussing them with others. History was another fascination, reading up on real events that happened to real people, and many times his daughters would stand with him on an empty spot and hear him say, “Right here, on this very spot a hundred years ago…” or “if these rocks could speak…”. He was a skillful storyteller, bringing characters to life and only embellishing the truth just a little bit, if he thought it would improve the story. He was a powerful observer and possessed an endless curiosity loving nothing better than to “check things out.” As a young boy Jim imagined a world map with a red line tracing his path wherever he went. He worked his entire life to extend the length of that red line. It was quite a moment when he realized he had circumnavigated the surface of the earth via ship, rail, and road.
At the age of 62, after retiring, Jim fulfilled his original dream of teaching when he and Sylvia lived and taught in China then taught together in the remote regions of Alaska in the native villages. Besides his 59-year marriage to his college sweetheart, his three daughters, and co-funding Instacolor, Jim was especially proud of climbing seven of the tallest Pacific Northwest peaks including Mount Rainier. He was a fan of traveling the “blue highways” on maps often taking much longer to get to places by taking “short cut” to avoid freeways and explore along the way. Jim dearly loved his hometown of Seattle, watching its skyline change over the years, rooting for the Huskies, and exploring its waters with Sylvia in their sailboat.
He found contentment in the home he and Sylvia built for their family on Bainbridge Island, where for 44 years he was active in the community. Jim especially enjoyed local theater, helping BLOA become BPA and The Oatmeal Club coming up with enlightening discussion topics and speakers. He loved researching and presenting profound talks on local history for community groups. Though Jim’s life was full of travel, adventure, and performance, he always said that his greatest adventure of all was raising his three daughters with Sylvia. He set the bar high as a father and his girls adored him. He will be sorely missed. Jim’s presence always filled the room and loved to hold center stage. His absence created a huge hole and unaccustomed quiet. Wherever he is now we know Jim is still extending that red line, checking things out in his new surroundings and asking those who arrived before him, “So, what’s your story?”
Jim is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sylvia (Smith) Martine, brother Jeff Martine (Eve), sister Millicent Day, his three daughters Tracey Murdock (Scott), Lynn Fleharty (Randy), Karin Schulhauser (Chad) and be his eight grandchildren, Frank, Mitch, Kendra, Jack, Sam, Alexandra, James and Presley. He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother in law Allen Day.
A celebration of his life will be held December 14th at 1 o’clock at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bainbridge Island Fire Department.