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Harriett L. Martin

1926 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Harriett L. Martin Obituary
Harriett L. Martin


Harriett Martin, a native of Maine, died on February 6, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Harriett is now at peace, and joins her late husband, Richard Alexander Martin (a veteran who fought in three wars; The Mexican Border War, World War I, and World War II) in the next step of her spirit's journey.

Born in Presque Isle, Maine, on March 2, 1926, Harriett was unique from the very beginning. She shared stories of working in her father's tire shop, canoeing, camping, hunting, snapping her bullwhip, and smoking cigarettes at the ripe old age of eight on fishing trips.

Harriett found her true enjoyment in being a mother to her only daughter, Mary Martin Gillman of Urbandale, Iowa. After a house fire took her husband from her in 1968, Harriett filled her days with her education and subsequent career as a humanistic counselor (arguably Harriett's biggest passion apart from being a mother).

Harriett worked in Augusta, Maine for the majority of her adult life meeting with clients in her basement office, being paid for her time and services with whatever her clients could afford (and often times for no pay at all). She cared very little for material possessions, and to Harriett, the most important thing in this world was helping others. As a testament to her beautiful heart, it was not an uncommon occurrence to be dining with Harriett in Augusta, and have one of her clients recognize her and pay her bill as thanks for the kindness and caring that she showed them when they were working through their personal struggles.

She worked hard, enjoyed conversation over a cup of coffee, and was an avid reader, armchair political pundit and bowler. If she wasn't doing any of those things, you may have found Harriett at the bingo parlor, or a casino playing her favorite slot machines. She was a proud member of Post #205 in Augusta.

After much cajoling from her daughter's family in Iowa, Harriett said goodbye to her family and friends in Maine, and came to live with Mary and Jim in Urbandale. Shortly after that, Harriett was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Later in her life, she found joy in watching her family grow, and spending time with her daughter and her son-in-law (Jim), as well as her grandchildren and great- grandchildren in the Midwest.

She would have told you that she always marched to the beat of a different drum and was a self-proclaimed loner. However, before her passing, she was anything but. She was taken care of by her daughter, a wonderful HCI In-Home Team, and was frequently visited by friends and family.

Harriett would have also told you that she was not afraid of death, and that she was intrigued about the next stage in her journey. Most importantly, she left this world surrounded by love.

She is survived by her daughter, Mary (Jim) Gillman, two sisters; Constance Patterson and Alice Irvine, two grandsons, Gregory (Nelly), and Andrew (Elizabeth), three great-grandchildren (Max, Maya, and Ainsley), and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Harriett was a healer, helper and friend to everyone she met. Few in this world have touched as many lives as she, and Harriett leaves behind a great example of how a caring ear, and a kind heart can actually make our world a better place.

A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines (1800 Bell Ave.) on March 9, 2013 at 11 a.m. Please join the family to share stories, celebrate the life of, and remember this woman who improved the lives of so many.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, or The .

Published in Des Moines Register on Mar. 3, 2013
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