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Louis Martins passed peacefully Sunday, May 11, 2014, surrounded by family at his home in Salinas, the very same city he was born to 92 years before.
He was a man who had legendarily cheated death at least twice over, and who had outlived two wonderful wives. He was a sailor in World War II; a millwright and a carpenter back home; a prolific hunter and fisher in his time; and a family man called Dad by his two sons and two daughters, and Pama by his grandchildren and their children.
Frank and Marie Martins welcomed Louis into the world on April 25, 1922. He was the fourth child of eight born to the Salinas rancher, and was exceedingly handy from a young age. He enlisted out of high school and worked in aviation gunnery, repairing weapons for the Navy. While stationed in Florida, he met a radiant diner waitress named Katherine Kuchenberg. Though he went on to serve in Hawaii until the war's end, Louis married Katherine and sent her to Salinas before leaving Melbourne.
In 1947, their first daughter was born. They would have four children — Carol, Richard, Marilyn, and Marty — with whom Louis loved to play games. He would take the boys hunting and fishing, and put them to work around the family's Spence Road property, laying foundation for the homes he would move onto the land and refurbish to rent. He fished commercially on his boat dubbed The Menace, delivered gas to farms and stations around central California, and worked with his hands in construction and machinery. He was an industrious man, fair, and kind.
Louis "Louie" lost the love of his life to cancer in 1979. Through dear friends though, he would meet Lois McCarty, and remarry. The couple traveled a great deal together, to destinations as disparate as Alaska and Italy. They were active in the Salinas senior community, and beloved by their ever-growing family. She, too, would pass unexpectedly in 1999. Louie's final years were not spent alone, however. Shirley Lewis was his companion and sweetheart until the day he died. He had also come to take in four neighborhood cats who brought him great comfort.
Louis Martins will be deeply missed by his loved ones. This Native Son of the Golden West was, in his way, golden — the sort of man who would bring a live alligator home from Florida in the trunk of his car, to be a family pet. And the sort of man who would maintain his impressive humor and sharp wits until the very end.
Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. today, May 15, 2014, at Queen of Heaven Chapel, 18200 Damian Way, Salinas, CA 93907.
Burial will follow.
Funeral arrangements by Struve and Laporte Funeral Home.
For more information and to share a memory, visit www.struveandlaporte.com.
Struve and Laporte Funeral Chapel
41 West San Luis Salinas, CA 93901
Published in The Salinas Californian from May 13 to May 15, 2014