MISSOULA — Roger Ray Martens, age 70, of Missoula, passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, surrounded by his family.
Roger was born in 1948 in Havre, to Jesse Martens and Wanda (VanBuskirk) Martens. Roger spent most of his childhood years in Havre, though the family also lived for brief periods of time in Helena, Maine, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Chief Mountain entrance station in Glacier National Park, where his father worked for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Roger fondly recalled summers in Glacier spent fishing with his Dad. A defining moment in Roger’s life came with the sudden death of his father in 1960.
Roger attended grade school at St. Jude Catholic School in Havre, and graduated from Havre High School. While in high school, he worked many hours at his step-father’s veterinary clinic. He studied for a year at Carroll College before transferring to the University of Montana, where he graduated with a degree in economics. He fell in love with the culture of Missoula, including the music scene, the arts, and the outdoors.
For over 37 years, Roger worked for the U.S. Postal Service in the Missoula area and served most of his career as the Postmaster in Clinton.
In 1983, Roger was united in marriage with his wife, Barbara (Isdahl) Martens, at Christ the King Church in Missoula. The couple first met at a gathering of canoe enthusiasts, a passion they would share throughout their lives. Barbara was the love of Roger’s life, his partner, and his best friend. They cherished their time together. Two of the happiest and proudest moments in their lives came with the births of their two daughters.
Roger’s wife and children hold dear their fond memories of camping in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, relaxing at their cabin in Whitefish, hanging out in their backyard, canoeing, hiking, Nordic skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, stargazing, playing music, creating art, celebrating holidays, shopping, and dining together as a family.
Roger was an avid and accomplished outdoorsman. You could often find him fly fishing, night-skiing at Pattee Canyon, or canoeing on local rivers. For nearly 50 years, Roger competed in marathon, flatwater, and whitewater canoe races throughout Montana, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada with his wife, daughters, and friends. Many will remember him for his extraordinary gracefulness on the water and the ski trails, and for his genuine love for outdoor sports and the freedom they granted.
Roger lived life to the fullest and deeply valued his time on Earth. He possessed an enduring curiosity about the world and our place within it. He was an excellent listener, had a great sense of humor, and enjoyed learning the unique stories of people around him.
Roger epitomized generosity and humility, and spared no effort to make life special and fun for his children and loved ones. He took the time to savor meaningful moments, including having coffee together in the morning, landscaping the yard, and camping in their Airstream trailer with his wife Barbara; canoeing and taking in the scenery and wildlife with his daughter Hilary; Nordic skiing and caring for animals with his daughter Emily; hitting the slopes in the Bear Paws with his brother Dave; and reminiscing about the old days with his sister Shelley. He loved playing guitar and sharing music with others, including his nieces and nephews who affectionately referred to him as Uncle Rock. Roger also greatly treasured his many wonderful friendships.
Roger holds a special place in the hearts of many, and words cannot express the deep admiration and love his family and friends will always have for him. His compassionate nature, adventurous spirit, and gratitude for life’s simple blessings inspired everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.
Roger is survived by his wife of 35 years, Barbara; two children, Hilary and Emily of Missoula; brother Dave (Kris) Martens of Havre; sister Shelley (Marvin) Miller of Dayton, Ohio; many nieces, nephews, and cousins; and many good friends. Roger was preceded in death by his parents, step-father Bill “Doc” Hirsch, and sister-in-law Lore Isdahl.
A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26 at Christ the King Church in Missoula. Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday Nov. 27 at Christ the King Church, with a lunch reception to follow at noon. Memorials may be given in Roger’s name to the Mayo Clinic for cancer research or to your local Nordic ski club.