Martin Harlan

August 20, 1925 - August 2, 2015
Traverse City, MI



Wednesday, August 12, 2015
10:00 AM EDT
Trinity United Methodist Church


Wednesday, August 12, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
Trinity United Methodist Church
1100 Lake Dr. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 456-7168
Web Site


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.

Meijer Gardens
1000 E. Beltline Rd. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
(888) 957-1580
Web Site

Habitat for Humanity

Please choose a Habitat for Humanity in your community.

Life Story / Obituary


Martin Lewis Harlan, 89, of Elmwood Township, Traverse City, died Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. He was born on Aug. 20, 1925 in New Castle, Indiana, the son of Earl and Otta (King) Harlan.

He married the love of his life, Lois Williamson, on May 20, 1950 in Akron, Ohio. They lived in Grand Rapids for over 52 years, then moved to Hope Village in Acme and then to Orchard Creek.

He was a Private First Class in the US Amry during WWII. Martin was a mechanical design engineer and was the holder of many U.S. patents. He designed the machine which removed the skin from pigs for Hush Puppies Shoes made by Wolverine World Wide. Martin also worked with Packaging Corporation of America designing different types of packaging. He designed machines to make hangers with the Batts Group.

Martin belonged to the Grawn United Methodist Church and formerly the Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids.

Martin was a woodworker and loved to build different projects. He built beach chairs, tables, ship lanterns and many pieces of furniture and toys for his grandchildren. He built the dulcimer that he played.

Martin and his wife volunteered and lived at the Ludington Lighthouse for three weeks one summer. He volunteered with the Meijer Gardens, Habitat for Humanity and the local elementary school near his home.

He enjoyed camping and canoeing with his wife and children. Martin and Lois loved to travel and once ventured in a covered wagon following the Western Trail.

Martin is survived by his wife, Lois; children, Deborah (John) Nickerson, of Beulah, and John (Judy) Harlan, of Lake Zurich, Illinois; and grandchildren, Dan Nickerson and Jim and Katherine Harlan.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Frances Wright.

Martin’s family would like to thank the caregivers at Hope Village, Orchard Creek, Hospice of Michigan, Chronic Care Management and Options for Senior Living for the great care they gave him.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015 at the Trinity United Methodist Church, Grand Rapids. The family will greet friends starting at 10 a.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Meijer Gardens or Habitat for Humanity.

Please visit Martin’s webpage at to sign the guestbook and share a message with his family.

The family chose Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City.