POPLAR — Florn K. Martin, 91, passed away on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at Valley Healthcare, after a short illness.
He was born in a log house at Nickwall, south of Poplar, on Nov. 28, 1919, to Elmer and Hattie Martin. He was raised on the family homestead. Florn helped his father on the farm and attended Nickwall School.
As a youth, Florn worked in the CCC's (Civilian Conservation Corps). He and his two brothers were also among those of the Greatest Generation who built Fort Peck Dam. His CCC's adventures included putting power poles over Logan Pass near St. Mary Lake. He could still climb a telephone pole (to take down a CB antenna for Rusty) in his 60s.
Florn and Vivian Marie Barker were married on Oct. 23, 1939. Florn worked hard for various employers in the Poplar area while he was training in the evenings to be a welder. In 1942, Florn, Vivian and their firstborn, Allan, born in 1940, moved to Seattle, where Florn welded in the shipyards. Their daughter, Cheryl, was born in 1943.
In 1944, as the war raged, Florn was drafted into the army. Florn's boss offered to get him a deferment, as he was already welding on military ships in the Seattle shipyard, but characteristically, Florn took what he thought was the right road, not the easy road. He chose to answer the call. He moved Vivian and the two kids back to Poplar, then went overseas to weld in the Philippines and later in Japan. Vivian bought a home in Poplar, in which they lived for 63 years. Florn and Vivian moved to Billings in 2007.
After the war, he returned to the home he had yet to see. In Poplar, Florn held a number of jobs, including being water superintendent for the city of Poplar. He was a volunteer ambulance driver and served as fire chief for 25 years. Rusty was born in 1949. Florn once had to climb to the top of the water tower to coax down an inebriant who had the nerve to scale the tower but not to come down. This demonstrated a couple of things about Florn that everyone knew: he was long on guts and he did a lot of things that others wouldn't do, just because they needed to be done. In 1963, Florn was inducted as Postmaster of Poplar, a position he held until retiring in 1982.
Florn loved fishing, fixing things and generally figuring out how to make just about anything work better. Florn and Vivian were both active in the Presbyterian Church and both served as Elders. Florn was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and was a member of the Masonic Lodge. He was also a member of the American Legion, VFW, and often played Santa for local kids.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Vivian; and their three children, Allan (Carol) of Rhode Island, Cheryl Nogo of Arizona and Rusty (Juanita) of Billings. He and Vivian have six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents; brothers Doyle and Monte; and sisters Madge and Gladys.
Arrangements are with Clayton-Stevenson Memorial Chapel of Wolf Point and Remington-Letcher Chapels of Laurel. The funeral will be at Poplar Presbyterian Church at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6.
The family wishes to thank St. Vincent Healthcare and Valley Healthcare for their wonderful care and caring people.