Stella Martin


Posted: Friday, August 30, 2002

Lifelong Alaska resident Stella Martin died Aug. 26, 2002, in Juneau.

Martin, whose Tlingit name is Yaan da yein, was born on Nov. 28, 1922, in Kake to Charles and Annie Johnson. She was Tsaagweidei, Killer Whale Clan, of the Yellow Cedar House (Xaai Hit') and the Eagle Moiety. She attended Sheldon Jackson from sixth grade through 12th grade and married Robert Rueben Martin the day after she graduated. The couple raised six children and was married for 46 years.

She was active in the Alaska Native Sisterhood camps in every community in which she lived: Sitka Camp No. 4, Kake Camp No. 10, Juneau Camp No. 2 and Glacier Valley Camp No. 70. At the time of her death she was a life member and camp mother of the Glacier Valley Camp. She was co-president of Juneau Camp No. 2 when its new ANB Hall was built and played a key role in raising funds for the building. She was elected ANS grand president at age 35 and served two terms. At the time of her death she held the title of grand president emeritus of the Alaska Native Sisterhood.

Martin also was active with the Salvation Army, the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, the St. Ann's Hospital board, Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Alaska Legal Services board, among other entities.

She was one of the first tribal judges, an AWARE Woman of Distinction, the Sealaska Woman of the Year, winner of the Elizabeth Peratrovich ANS Citizenship Award, and Delegate of the Year for Tlingit and Haida. This year she was honored with the title of Hostess of the General Assembly for the tribe.

Family members said her legacy will live on through the lives of those who knew her, just as the legacy of her parents and grandparents lived on through her. In recognition of her service to the state, Gov. Tony Knowles has ordered state flags in Southeast Alaska lowered to half-staff on Aug. 30.

She was preceded in death by her husband Robert and a daughter, Michele.

She is survived by her sons Bob Jr. and his wife Virginia, Juneau, Bill and his wife Lorraine, Fremont, Calif., and George, Watsonville, Calif.; daughters Priscilla Steele and her husband Jim, Juneau, and Rena, Seattle; brother Charles Johnson, Kake; sisters Flora Huntington and her husband Tom, Juneau, and Augusta Connelley and her husband Chuck, Flagstaff, Ariz.; 17 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and many "adopted" children and grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 at the ANB Hall. Funeral services are planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Tlingit and Haida Community Center. She will be buried at Alaskan Memorial Park.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons, Ben, Robert and Josh Steele, Steven Pennoyer, Lawrence Barkley, and the members of the ANB executive committee. Honorary pallbearers will be Jim Steele, Patrick Pennoyer, Tom Huntington, Cyril George Sr., William E. Smith, Miles Ramsdell, Edward Thomas, Robert Loescher, Richard Jackson and all past ANB grand presidents.

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