Denny Martel, a fifth-generation islander and lifelong resident of San Juan Island, passed peacefully on a blustery Sunday afternoon on the island's west side.
Denny was born in Anacortes, Wash. to Ed and Edith Martel and graduated from Friday Harbor High School with the Class of 1959, his graduating quote, “I find joy in living, Why Not!”
After graduation and before purchasing Martel Well Drilling from his father Ed, Denny worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and Washington, a crop duster in Montana, and a switch operator in the Seattle Train Yard, north of Fisherman's Terminal.
After marring Kristy Wade in 1972, Denny had two children, Justin Edward and Tara Melissa Martel, and continued to carry on the family well-drilling business.
Denny's adventurous nature inspired him to summers in Alaska as a fish-spotting pilot for salmon and herring, to the South Pacific as partner and crew in F/V Tucanna, a South Sea tuna long-lining operation, and to the creation of Sonoma Seafood's fishing tuna off the coast of California and Mexico.
Denny is well known for his aviation skills and has won numerous awards, including holding the record for Super Cub Short Field Landing and Take Off. In addition to aviation, Denny was world traveler, some of his favorite landings being Fiji, Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia.
Ever the sportsman, Denny hunted waterfowl and upland birds all across North America, from Alaska to Mexico and east to the Mississippi River, with his son Justin often accompanying him on these hunting trips.
In his later years, Denny loved to share and inspire adventures with his grandchildren Eve and Ryder Hulse, fishing, flying, and hiking. One of his biggest joys was the time they spent together living on Bailer Hill.
Denny is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Edward Martel and Edith Bergman Martel, and is survived by his brother Leonard Edward Martel (Pam), his children Justin Edward Martel and Tara Martel Hulse (Marty), his grandchildren, Eve Louis Hulse and Ryder Martin Hulse, and his numerous nieces and nephews.
There will be a celebration of Denny's life, friendships and love on Saturday, May 17, 2014 at his home on Bailer Hill. Details to be announced at a later date.
— Family of Denny Martel