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Robert Loyd "Bob" Martin 1916 ~ 2015

 

SWAN VALLEY - Bob Martin, 98, longtime resident of Swan Lake and Condon passed away Sunday, Oct. 25 at St. Joseph Hospital in Polson, Mont. of natural causes.

He was born Dec. 18, 1916 in Odessa, Ore. to Robert Homer and Maude Martin. As a young boy he lived with his family on a farm and was educated in Glendale, Ore. public schools. While in Glendale schools he played football, worked on the farm, hunted to feed his family and studied the violin.

During his junior year (1933), he left home with no money and walked and rode the rails to Condon to live with his aunt and uncle Babe and Eva Wilhelm. He completed high school in Missoula County High School where he met the love of his life Peggy. He worked for the US Forest Service on both Elbow and Jim Lookouts, chased smoke, fought fires, built trail and was a smoke jumper in the smoke jumping program's first year of 1941. He also attended Montana School of Mines at Butte for three years, supporting himself during the school year by working underground in the mines.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in US Army Air Corps where he was trained as an aerial gunner and instructor for the B-26 bombers.

He was married to Norma "Peggy" Smith in October of 1942 at Fort Wayne, Indiana just prior to deploying to North Africa with the 320th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. He served as a crew chief and gunner on 50 combat missions in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Southern France before returning to Gawain Field, Boise, Idaho where he trained B-24 flight crews until he was discharged at the end of the war. He then worked as a heavy equipment mechanic and shop foreman in Boise, Alaska and Condon.

In 1949, he bought his first piece of logging equipment and spent the next 30 years as a contract logger and land clearing/brush piling contractor working all over western Montana.

Bob was a licensed pilot, a fearless dozer operator on steep ground, an accomplished heavy equipment mechanic, welder and machinist. He was an ardent hunter and fisherman his whole life and enjoyed working as a gunsmith and tinkering with his snowmobiles after retirement. He invented and patented a snowmobile brake. Bob played the banjo and violin at many dances in the Swan Valley and Swan Lake for more than forty years and in later years volunteered to play the banjo at several senior centers. He had a curious mind and spent a lot of time reading, studying and working complex math and scientific problems in his head.

He was a loving husband, father and grandfather and passed on many of his skills to his boys and grandchildren. He was active with Peggy in school and community activities and served with Peggy as the Republican Party Chair for the lower Swan Valley for many years.

Bob was preceded in death by: his wife Peggy; his parents; brother Neal; sisters Bernice McGuire and Wilma Baker; step brother Ben Whaley; step sister Lettie Loffer and son Ronald. He is survived by: his sister Flo Gates of the Seattle, Wash. area; half-sister Lynn Diltz of Glendale, Ore .; son Robert (Mary) Martin of Polson; grandsons Robert, Bret, Andrew, Alexander, Jason and Henry Martin; granddaughters Lacey Hatch and Dawn O'Neal; 12 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, grandnieces nephews and grandnephews.

A graveside service was held at Lone Pine Cemetery in Bigfork Oct. 29. A celebration of Bob's life will be scheduled early in the summer of 2016 at Swan Lake.

In lieu of flowers please help the Martin family support either the Swan Lake Volunteer Fire Department, 22770 Hwy 83, Swan Lake, MT 59911 or Providence St. Joseph Assisted Living, 11 Seventeenth Avenue, Polson, MT 59860.

 

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