Shirley Amelia (Dames) Martin
1936 - 2020
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Born September 23, 1936 to Harold and Alvina Dames in Lodi California. She passed quietly in her sleep at home January 18, 2020 after a long illness.
Shirley spent her childhood in Lodi, California and attended Lodi High School (Class of '48) where she was an "A" student, Editor of the Yearbook, treasurer of the Scholarship Federation and played a role in the class play. After high school, she went to work at Foremost Dairy where she met and married Glen Neckels. They moved to Foresthill after their two sons, Ken and Russ, were born where they owned and operated the Foresthill Grocery. Shirley also worked at Foresthill Elementary School as the executive secretary for Principal Joe Nolan.
Shirley moved to Auburn shortly after divorcing Glen and went to work for the Auburn Police Department as the Dispatcher. She was especially proud of her time with Auburn PD. She then went to work as executive secretary and receptionist for Sid Karsh at Auburn Lake Trails, a project of Transamerica Development Company and Landtec. The following year a new entity was formed with a group of land development companies called Western Developers Council. The first President, Sid Karsh, selected Shirley to manage its new headquarters in Sacramento. A few years later Sid left Western Developers Council to join Dart Industries. He asked Shirley to join him in a project they were developing in Truckee, California - Tahoe Donner. Shirley became the manager of the Tahoe Donner Hotel and was soon promoted to General Manager of the Property Owners Association. She became extremely ill during her last years at Tahoe Donner and ultimately retired with a disability as a result of a disease called Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease. In the months immediately following her retirement, Sid and his wife, Diane, introduced Shirley to a neuromuscular specialist, Dr. Engel, whose medical practice and research base was near their home in Southern California. Shirley made many trips to Los Angeles to see Dr. Engel whom she lovingly and somewhat cynically called "God" due to his highly regarded status in the neuromuscular medical/research field. Each visit she stayed each time at the home of Sid and Diane and they maintained a lifelong friendship.
She met Joseph Martin, the love of her life, while she was Manager of the Tahoe Donner Hotel. Joe was the Director of the Ski Hill in winter and the Golf Pro in the spring and summer. After Shirley was retired, they move to Aptos, California to allow her to recuperate. After a year of too many foggy days, they decided to move to Saratoga, California to be closer to Stanford University where Shirley was then receiving treatment for the myasthenia gravis. While at Stanford, her doctors encouraged her to enjoy life as much as possible. To that end, she bought herself a white corvette, the car of her dreams. Together, she and Joe drove that car everywhere for nearly 20 years. She called it her "baby."
During their time in Saratoga, they loved attending shows at Mountain Winery. They especially enjoyed Mel Torme and Manhattan Transfer and saw them in many other venues as well. They had season tickets to the ballet in San Francisco for many years and loved attending the theater and other events in the City along with shopping.
Shirley's love for the outdoors was instilled at a very young age by her father who taught her how to hunt and fish. She and Joe loved to travel in their small trailer and fish all over the west coast. They owned a cabin in Monte Rio on the Russian River that they bought from Shirley's Aunt Molly, and finally sold it after being flooded out three winters in a row.
Shirley loved to travel with Joe, especially to the Caribbean Islands and Hawaii. Before her illness prevented her from flying, they loved to winter in Hawaii for a month at a time. Kona was their favorite location where they loved to sit out on their deck and enjoy the ocean.
With her disease more or less under control, they moved back to Auburn. Shirley attended the Lutheran Church in Auburn where she and Joe chaired the Food Closet project for a number of years. Her faith was very important to her and helped sustain her throughout her illness.
She had a special love for her pets. Throughout her retirement, she cared for several rescue Shih Tzus and other doggies. She is survived by Jennie, a Shih Tzu and Josie, a poodle. She loved to take them for rides in her green convertible Jaguar and for walks in the park. Poodle Day in Carmel was an annual favorite. She loved cats as well. Her Siamese cat, Duchess – a favorite at Tahoe Donner - lived more than twenty years. Her cat, Maggie, passed a just a few months before Shirley at age 16.
Shirley was mentor to a number of women in Auburn and Truckee, helping them to advance their careers. She helped instill confidence and she encouraged them to be independent. She supported their involvement in community, in school, and in business. She gave career advice, motherly advice, and she shared her sense of style and fashion, her understanding and knowledge of people and business, and her great sense of fun. She remained close with a special few over the years.
Shirley Martin was a very special woman – daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend. She was preceded in death by her mother, Alvina Dames Martin, father Harold Dames. She is survived by her husband Joseph Martin of 42+ years and two sons, Ken Neckels and his wife, Stephanie, four grandchildren - Katie Kerr (Nate), Kyle Neckels (Talia), Kelly Diller (Steven) and Kenny James Neckels, and four great grandchildren – Hudson, Camdyn and Madisyn Kerr and Callum Neckels, as well as many other family members and dear friends. She is greatly missed.
A private memorial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Placer SPCA in memory of Shirley Martin.
Published in "Folsom Telegraph, The" on Aug. 15, 2020.
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