Judy Ann Martinson (Smithhisler)
Judy Ann Martinson (Smithhisler), 67-years-old, was freed of all earthly burdens on Sunday, August 8, 2021 in Nome Alaska.
Born on October 16, 1953 in Mt. Vernon Ohio to Wanda and Dale Smithhisler, Judy was one of three siblings, an older sister Barbara, and a younger brother, Larry. She grew up on a farm outside Butler, Ohio, and often mingled amongst the local Amish Community. She attended and graduated from Clear Fork High School, where she was Lead Majorette and FFA Queen her senior year. She was well known for her baton skills, including flaming batons at local football games. She graduated at the age of 17, and shortly thereafter spent time in Guam, San Leandro, California, and Tacoma, Washington where she was a talented cosmetologist and hairdresser, and earned an associate degree in business.
Judy traveled to Nome in 1975 to visit her family, where on an excursion with her parents visiting a friends’ mining camp on the Kougarok River near Black Dome, they became perilously stuck in the mud and had to be rescued by a dozer being operated by Doug Martinson. He had gone searching after hearing a KNOM Hotline and found them 11 miles away. Later that morning Judy and Doug soon went on their first date on that same dozer. The dozer was the only car they had, as the army truck had no breaks. They soon fell in love, and he became the love of her life. They married at Cottonwood, on the banks of the Pilgrim River outside of Nome in 1977. She gained a stepson Ryan Douglas, and later in 1979 they welcomed their first daughter Sari Ann and in 1980 they welcomed their second daughter, Jessa Lynn.
Doug and Judy began building their life in Nome, where Judy sold Mary Kay cosmetics, often delivering by dogsled in the winter, and in the summer, using a bright red 1956 Mack dump truck enduringly named “old snort.” Not having daycare and always doing everything herself, the young girls, Sari and Jessa would play with their doll babies and coloring books on the floorboard while Judy hauled gravel and makeup. After a short time, she had sold enough products (to both men and women-she was very proud of that) and was invited to Texas to meet Mary Kay herself. Her achievements in this afforded them enough money between Doug working for Alaska Gold in the summer and crabbing during winter months to begin financing what would become their construction business.
As the years went by, they began to win construction projects throughout the Bering Straits Region. They traveled with their entire family. They would load up all their equipment onto barges and landing crafts including their dogs and horses and set up a camp to house the crew and complete the work. NorthCoast Construction became a successful construction company where they proudly built roads, runways, created job opportunities, lead church youth groups and formed unforgettable bonds with families throughout the region. She operated all the equipment, she conducted all the bids, managed all the paperwork and was even the camp cook everywhere they went. Including using an aircraft radio to manage incoming and outgoing flights on projects where we were rebuilding runways.
Her faith in God saw her and Doug through the good times and the bad. No matter what life threw their way, they woke up every morning and devoted time to read their Bibles and pray together. Her incredible nonstop search for faith, truly opened doors and led to opportunities on a steady basis. She always had a dream and the obstacles parted in front of her. She often had a saying “fake it till you make it.” Her incredible faith is something her family will miss dearly, as she always had a dream, and nothing was impossible.
In 2009, they began fulfilling their dream of building the Dredge No.7 Inn and began providing hospitality and lodging services to their beloved community of Nome. Along with rentals, Dredge no. 7 Inn grew from seven to 34 rooms. In 2012 they began building the first ever documented vessel to be built of steel in Nome. The vessel was named “The Judy Ann” and was completed and launched in 2015. She joined the fleet of other large excavator dredges working the gold rich seabeds offshore of Nome.
In recent years, to enjoy a warmer climate during the long cold winter months, Judy and Doug began to build their dream home on the Big Island of Hawaii near Kalapana.
She also founded and sponsored her own women's softball team named “The Dredge 7 Invincibles”, where she created lifelong bonds with the team players and even went to state tournaments. She was known very well for her enthusiasm, often ringing her cow bell and horn blowing which everyone both loved and tolerated.
Judy is preceded in death by her parents Wanda and Dale Smithhisler, her grand-daughter Mackenzie Faith Haugen, her grandson Jude Robert Jennetten and her loving Aunt Janice Haynes.
She is lovingly survived by her husband of 44 years, Doug, her siblings Barbara Moore and Larry Smithhisler, her children Ryan, Sari and Jessa, and her grandchildren Shelby, Jeremiah, Harmony, Jackson, Cassidy, Brody, and Mila. As well as numerous extended and honorary family members, and countless former and current employees and crew members.