Chief Warrant Officer (CWO4) Henry George Martin, machinist, engineer, bicyclist, and writer, died on 17 Apr 2023 in Grand Rapids Michigan at Clark Retirement Home due to natural causes. He had a stroke just a week prior, and he had a pacemaker whose battery life was diminishing. He however had an amazing memory that worked well up until the end.
Born of immigrant parents from Derbyshire, England, Henry George Martin had quite a life living 104 years, four (4) months, and four (4) days.
Henry, aka “Hank”, was born on 13 Dec 1918 in Battle Creek, Michigan just a month after the end of World War I. His parents were Henry Martin and Elizabeth Cartledge, both born in Derby, England and new arrivals to the United States in April of 1914.
His father was a machinist and a welder who worked on locomotives and box cars in Battle Creek. His father and mother followed their good friends from England, George Wood and Annie (Aston) Wood, to America to have a better life for themselves and their children.
Henry George grew up in Battle Creek with three other siblings: Edna, Elsie, and Arthur. Edna died early in life at the age of eighteen (18) due to a congenital heart condition. Elsie lived a long life of ninety-three (93) years, marrying Harold Eraldo Mazzei in Battle Creek. Arthur died relatively early in life at the age of almost fifty (50).
Henry graduated from Battle Creek High School and went to work with his father working on trains. He learned the skill of machining metal while employed at the Grand Trunk Western Railroad.
He found the love of his life Charleen Imogene McMillan in Battle Creek. On 16 Oct 1940, Henry filled out his paperwork for the draft in World War II and on 19 Oct 1940, he and Charleen drove from Battle Creek Michigan to Bryan, Ohio and got married. The distance is almost 100 miles. Why did they drive that far? You were required to get a blood test before marriage in Michigan; you weren’t required in the State of Ohio.
Henry followed his dreams, which lead him to an aerospace job in San Diego, California while waiting for his draft number to be called. He worked for Consolidated Aircraft company in California and was the father of his first son Thom in October 1942, born in San Diego.
While in California, Henry was called to duty in California by a personal note from the President of the United States (as Henry put it) and served in the US Coast Guard. Henry served two years and two months during World War II. Henry continued to serve in the USCG in the Reserves and rose to the highest level as a Warrant Officer, achieving the status of CWO4 before he retired.
Henry and his wife Charleen returned to Battle Creek and had another son Steve in 1948. They remained in Michigan until Henry pursued design opportunities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Henry was a bicycle enthusiast and at the age of sixty-eight (68) decided to ride his bicycle solo to his High School reunion in Battle Creek. The amazing thing is he started from his retirement home in Homestead, Florida, a 1,600 mile or so journey that took him under three weeks.
Henry and Charleen returned to Michigan, living in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Clark Retirement Home.
Henry’s wife of almost seventy years died in 2010 of breast cancer after being cared for lovingly at Clark. After her death, Henry decided at age 91 to travel to England (with a bicycle) and then move back to Florida.
But that was not the end. Henry decided to travel around the world before he died. He went from Florida, to California, to New Zealand, to Dubai, to England, and finally returning to Florida.
Henry decided to leave Florida again and return to Grand Rapids to live at Clark Retirement Home once more. At 101, Henry was still living independently, traveling on the bus to Meijer to buy food and his favorite 5:00 PM beverage: Bombay Sapphire Gin.
During Covid, Henry fell and broke his neck. Unbelievably he recovered but then had to enter assisted living.
Henry’s son Steve Paul Martin died in 2020 in Milwaukee Wisconsin due to Covid-19. A year prior, Henry travelled back and forth to Milwaukee to deliver his son in the nursing home a My Pillow.
Henry is survived by his son Thom and two granddaughters: Ann and Savannah.
Henry will be remembered for his fun stories, his baking of mince-meat pies, and his writing: Follow The White Line, which was about his journey on a bicycle at age 68 and his life.
In accordance of Henry’s wishes, Henry will be buried. A committal service for CWO4 Henry George Martin will be performed at Fort Custer in Augusta, Michigan on Friday April 21, 2023 at 11:30am.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Henry Martin, please visit our floral store.