Jun 23rd 1955 - Jul 9th 2012
When reflecting on the life of William Martinson, it is easy to see that he never worried much about building wealth or gaining the praise of those around him, rather, he was a humble man who set about establishing and maintaining the relationships he shared with his family members and friends. He was a man of many gifts who used his talents to enrich the lives of those around him. Bill was friendly and outgoing, the sort of person who never met a stranger. With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, he created a brilliant tapestry of memories that will remain forever near and dear to those he leaves behind.
The decade of the 1950s was a colorful time in our nation’s history full of countless changes that were shaping the cultural fabric of our nation. It was in 1954 that the educational system was transformed by the ruling in Brown versus the Board of Education, setting the civil rights movement into high gear. Televisions were becoming part of more and more homes while sitcoms like The Honeymooners and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet shed new light on the American family. Nestled within this colorful time was the year 1955 that brought great joy to a bustling family as they welcomed a healthy baby boy into the mix. William Norman was the third of six children born to his parents, Norman and Carol (Alstrom) Martinson in Alpena, Michigan. He was raised in the family home in the village of Ossineke on the Devil’s River alongside his older siblings, Ruth and Chris, and his younger siblings, Karl, Tina, and Ingrid. Bill’s father was chief engineer on Huron Portland Cement’s freighter, eventually earning the title of fleet engineer. His mother was trained as a teacher who later became a homemaker who focused her attention on her household and was responsible for the bulk of the parenting duties while her husband was off working.
In many ways Bill experienced an upbringing that was fairly typical for the youth of his generation. He had a rather adventurous and independent spirit as evidenced by time he set off down the road on his own when he was just two or three years old to go visit his Great Aunt Louise. Good thing their family dog, King, would not let him walk on the road and kept pushing Bill in the ditch. As a young boy he often skated on the river and enjoyed downhill skiing, sledding, and swimming. Bill was a part of Boy Scouts of America as both a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, played Little League baseball, and took part in youth group events at church. He was very musically talented and excelled in playing the piano. Bill attended local schools including Alpena High School where he was involved in the school paper, The Wildcat, and was so proud of all his stories. He also participated in school plays and was part of the band and orchestra as a percussionist. In addition Bill was a member of the Latin club and the masquers club, and he also became involved with the civic theater.
After graduating from high school in 1973, Bill continued his education at Olivet College where he focused on music. He later transferred to the University of Michigan and earned a BA in English in 1978.
It was while he was very young that Bill came to treasure relationships with so many others. He was very close with his maternal grandmother with whom he shared the gift of music. Through the years Bill spent a lot of time with her. Bill and the whole Martinson clan enjoyed spending time at their summer home at North Point and visiting family and friends. He was always very interested in exploring his family history and loved Norwegian baking during the Christmas holiday.
His earliest years in the workforce found him working as a deckhand on the Paul H. Townsend for a short time. Bill later worked at Huron Portland Cement before settling in at Detroit Bank and Trust, which is now Comerica, where he worked as an assistant manager.
A man who never took one day for granted, Bill’s life was enriched in so many ways. He was a lifelong devoted member of Spruce Presbyterian Church where he also served as the organist for a time. Additionally, Bill was a longtime member of the Light of Hope Alpena Clubhouse. He loved getting together with family and friends as often as he could, enjoying regular meals out to catch up on what was going on in their lives. Family get togethers were always something Bill looked forward to as well, and he encouraged his family members to take part in the arts by buying tickets to the Fisher Theater. He liked watching a variety of things on television such as historical events like royal weddings in addition to tennis, cheerleading, journalism, broadcast news, and the witty banter on morning news shows.
The things to love about Bill were many. He remained greatly devoted to his family. When his sister, Ruth, was in a car accident Bill went to see her every day throughout her three month hospital stay. He was truly genuine in his interest in the lives of his family and friends. Perhaps it was this concern for others that helped him remember names and faces, especially classmates from school. During his younger years he was meticulous about his appearance and preferred certain brands when it came to clothing and shoes such as Master's Shoes and Eddie Bauer.
A kindhearted and generous man, William Martinson was a blessing in the lives of so many. He was known for his positive outlook and his proper manners no matter the circumstances around him - a true gentleman if ever there was one. There was no greater gift in Bill’s life than his family and friends who will miss him deeply. The lives of many are forever changed because of Bill’s touch.
William Norman “Bill” Martinson of Alpena died Monday, July 9, 2012, at home. Bill’s family includes his five siblings: Christopher (Ellen) Martinson of New London, WI, Ruth (Jeremy) Fleck of Alpena, Karl Martinson of Hazel Park, MI, Tina (Bruce) Wozniak, Ingrid (Scott) Stepanski both of Alpena; his uncle, Bill (Norma) Alstrom of Alpena; and numerous nieces and nephews. Bill Martinson is at McWilliams Funeral Home – Alpena where friends may call on Friday from 2:00-8:00 p.m. and on Saturday, July 14, 2012, at Spruce Presbyterian Church from 1:00 p.m. until the time of the funeral service at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Thomas J. Welscott officiating. Interment will be at Pleasant View Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to Light of Hope Alpena Clubhouse, 228 S. Third Avenue, Alpena, MI 49707. Please visit Bill’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory or sign the on-line guest book.