At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
To the College Fund for the Children
Please mail donations to:
c/o: Life Story Funeral Home
5975 Lovers Lane
Portage, MI 49002
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Through the life of Jenn Martin we are reminded that the most important things in life aren't things. Diagnosed four years ago with stage IV lung cancer, Jenn knew the life she had left was a gift she cherished and fought hard to extend every moment with the family to whom she dedicated her life.
Jennifer Michelle Martin was born December 19, 1976 – the same year as the ice storm during which a state of emergency was declared in Muskegon, MI. Her parents, Michael and Kathy (Gunn) Kroll, also traveled through quite a blizzard to get to the hospital that day. Of their three children, Jenn was in between Jason and Jillian.
Growing up she was involved in Girl Scouts but her favorite pastime was when she and Jason dressed up their baby sister, Jill, in multiple winter coats and shot her with BB guns. They pulled Jill's arm out of socket once and (before cell phones) had to wait hours for their parents to come home and take her to the hospital. As she became older, Jenn lived for being a camp counselor and was active at several different camps throughout the summers. She graduated from Reeths Puffer High School in 1995 and attended some classes at Muskegon Community College.
Jenn originally knew Cindy Corpe as a classmate of her brother's, but the two quickly became friends while working together in Muskegon. Numerous jobs, many years, getting tattoos together and a million other life events later, Cindy remained Jenn's closest confidante and best friend.
On April 9, 2000 Jenn gave birth to her first son, a beautiful brunette she named Caleb, and was raising him as a single mother before meeting Dan in 2001. It didn't take long for them to fall head over heels in love and they were married in August 2003. They gave birth to their son, Jacob, a handsome blonde, on December 10, 2003. On December 20, 2006 Dan officially adopted Caleb and the paperwork simply made his existing relationship as "dad" legal. Their youngest son, Matthew, was born a ginger on December 14, 2009. They have also had several well-loved pets over the years. Her favorites were Tanner and Murray, but her family's favorite pet story was "Operation get Stink Pot (Sam) to stay," where Jenn and the kids plotted ways to permanently keep the runt puppy Dan brought home from the vet's office where he works to nurse back to health. Needless to say, Dan caved and the Martins now care for 4 dogs.
When Jake was not quite two, he threw his pacifier into a shark tank at Sea World while Caleb disappeared. Jenn and Dan searched for him in full panic mode and finally he reappeared with an employee telling him to "save my brother's sassy." They fished it out and it was chewed up (by Jacob), but when he saw it exclaimed, "Oh NO! The shark ate Jacob's sassy!" Another summer, in the middle of Matthew's T-ball game, he saw an ice cream truck in the neighborhood next to the park. He immediately dropped his glove in the field, and chased him in search of ice cream. These are only a few of the stories that accurately portray the chaos, laughter, and love the Martin family shares on a daily basis.
Having three boys who excel athletically, Jenn was a die-hard sports mom. Dan and Jenn spent nearly every weekend year round attending one of their kids' sporting events together, dividing and conquering by attending multiple kids' games, traveling to a tournament out of town, or best of all – enjoying Friday nights at RJ's or Wings Etc! In fact, Jenn joked beer was "medicine" for cancer. She was thankful for the support of her closest baseball and hockey families, who became an extension of their family over the years.
The Martins loved to take road trips every summer – Jenn always preferred driving to flying because of the random stops (pirate mustaches for everyone!) and family time together. Their favorite trip was their most recent vacation to Myrtle Beach where they spent time deep sea fishing, playing putt-putt, parasailing, walking the beach, watching a baseball game, and hunting for shark teeth. The craziest start to a family trip happened one summer when the transmission on their truck died as they were heading to Petoskey for Jake's state tournament. The whole family was transported atop the tow truck (super safe) to a mechanic. Wendy picked them up and they crammed all of their luggage and baseball gear into Jason's tiny Subaru to continue their trek.
Other family traditions include making frozen Jack's pizza Christmas Eve, kids choosing the restaurant for family dinner each birthday, finally decorating a tree after the last December birthday, and taking gimmicky photos with Santa and the Easter Bunny every year. "If you don't believe, you don't receive" was Jenn's threat to guarantee participation.
Jen started working as a call center representative at IndyMac Bank in January 2002. The company changed names about as many times as she changed titles – she was promoted several times and ended her career as Vice President of Mortgages at CIT Bank. The bank has been incredibly flexible as she plowed through treatment after treatment, allowing her to work remotely via laptop at home or hospital bed. The company provided generous benefits and she loved her job and coworkers. Special appreciation to Alisha Bender, Jenn's best friend at work, and to David Rodriguez, her boss at corporate in Texas, who promoted her knowing she had terminal cancer. He saw in her what we see in her – a hardworking woman, determined to get the job done.
Other notes of gratitude are offered to Dr. Marcia Liepman, her oncologist, who was Jenn's trusted physician and friend – ensuring the best treatment possible, making referrals to other specialists if she couldn't offer it. Jenn always appreciated Dr. Liepman's no-nonsense approach, and how she made herself available, even during non-working hours, and simply made Jenn feel special – more than just a patient. Beth Mastin, Dan's cousin, worked at the West Michigan Cancer Center and offered deeper explanation of scans and test results, a companion by her side during treatment sessions, and constant support as each new tumor surfaced. Thank you to Christy Cate, Matthew's caregiver, who kept Mattman overnight on occasions when Jenn was hospitalized to distract him with laughter and provide him with a sense of stability.
Despite a life that ended too quickly, Jenn Martin made a significant impact in the lives of so many people throughout her life. She was a fierce fighter, loyal to a fault, sarcastic, funny, and laidback – nothing ruffled her feathers. It will be her consistent optimism that will be her shining legacy. Life will never be the same without her here, especially during Christmas – her favorite holiday, but Jenn's memory will remain forever near and dear to the hearts and lives of those she leaves behind.
Jennifer Michelle Martin, of Portage, passed away Sunday, December 11, 2016 following a brutal four year battle with cancer. She was surrounded by family and close friends, and died a week shy of her 40th birthday. She was preceded in death by her younger sister, Jillian (Kroll) Kelch in 2009. Jenn is survived by Daniel, her husband of 13 years; sons Caleb (16), Jacob (13) and Matthew (7) Martin; parents Mike and Kathy (Bruce) of Muskegon; brother Jason (Wendy) Kroll, and their 4 children; niece Cadence and her father, Eric. She is also survived by her grandparents Tom and Ruth Martin and Jean Mastin; parents-in-law Steve and Sue Martin; sisters-in-law Lynn (Nathan) Dixon and their 2 boys, and Brenda (Kevin) Burtovoy and their 4 children and 1 granddaughter. She also leaves behind a large extended family, countless friends and fellow sports fans in the West Michigan area and beyond.
There will be a celebration of life in her honor on Tuesday, December 20 from 5-9 pm at Angel's Crossing Golf Club in Vicksburg. Everyone who knew and loved her is welcome to attend to share their stories and memories.
Please visit Jenn’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read her life story, sign the guestbook, share a memory and/or photo. It was Jenn’s wish that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to her children’s college fund.