Albert Alexander Martin
Albert Alexander Martin, family historian, WWII veteran, environmental contributor, father, professional, artist, winemaker, author and friend, passed away May 9, 2020 at the age of 93.
Albert was born in Los Angeles, California on June 20, 1926 toThomas Albert Martin of Kassel, Germany and Helen Mathilde Harmer of Santa Barbara, California. Albert was a 5th generation Californian and a descendant of the Abadie, Lugo, and Leyba (Leyva) families dating back to the Presidio de Santa Barbara.
Albert’s grandfather was the famous painter Alexander F. Harmer. Harmer’s paintings depicted life in the southwest and later in Santa Barbara. Harmer, more than any other artist of the west, worked to reveal the timeless beauty of the landscape and the people of the region. Today, Harmer continues to be known as the artist of the Native American Apache and for his sincere, authentic images of early California life. His artwork is displayed in many
museums around the world, including the Smithsonian. Many of Harmer’s paintings have been used for Santa Barbara’s annual Fiesta celebration posters.
Albert grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by his cousins the Northrops, Johansings, and the Gesners. One of his favorite memories growing up in LA was being invited by his uncle, Jack Northrop, to visit the new Northrop Aircraft Plant and airfield in Hawthorn, CA, just outside of LA. Albert was able to witness the flight of Northrop’s
“Flying Wing”, a single wing prototype aircraft designed for the military as a heavy bomber in preparation for an inevitable war with Germany.
After graduating from Loyola High School in LA, Albert enlisted in the Navy. He was stationed in the Philippines during WWII where he served as a fire engineer at the base fire station. He later served as a fire engineer with the Construction Battalion 122 Seabees. Like many of our nation’s greatest generation, he did not speak much about his experience in the war. Just a few black and white photos and a short story on occasion.
After the war, Albert returned to LA where he enrolled in the Los Angeles City College. He then transferred to the University of California at Santa Barbara where he graduated in 1950 with a degree in Botany.
Applying his newfound expertise in Botany, Albert contributed to the post-war reforestation of Germany. Albert’s uncle, Dr. Ernest Martin and wife Dr. Illa Martin, planted a Sequoia farm in Kaldenkirchen, Germany. Albert gathered Giganteum Sequoia (Giant Sequoia) cones from several different elevations in the Sierra Sequoia
forests of California. He wrapped the cones in burlap to preserve them and sent them to Germany. The
Kaldenkirchen Grenzwald Arboretum, bordering Germany and the Netherlands today, is one of great
environmental importance in Germany.
In 1950 Albert married (Barbara) Noel Madden, daughter of William F. Madden and Rose McCarthy of New York.
Albert and Noel had five children, Shannon, Alan, Roselyn, Colleen, and William. Albert was a true family man. He assisted with the construction of the family home in Mission Canyon and it was a perfect environment to raise five kids. We all have wonderful memories growing up in Mission Canyon, taking our walks learning about the flora, reptiles, birds, and geology. Our summer vacations were special as well, camping, fishing, hiking, and
swimming in and around the Sierras. Even Albert’s famous “shortcuts”, though they rarely produced the desired outcome, were great adventures. Albert received special recognition as the Santa Barbara Junior Chamber of Commerce’s “Father of the Year” in 1964.
Albert spent 33 years in the local Title Insurance industry. He worked his way up from entry level map draftsman to County Manager. Albert is a legend in the title business. His knowledge was extraordinary and sought after even long after he retired. He was a mentor to many title professionals who benefited not only from his knowledge, but his calm, collected, and thoughtful manner.
In 1986 Albert married Jane Barber. Jane had just purchased a very small “Moody Sisters’” home on Periwinkle Lane in Montecito. The house was quite a project and together Albert and Jane turned it into a lovely home all while keeping the Moody Sisters’ originality. It is here that Albert set up his art studio and painted his wonderful
The Periwinkle house is also the start of Albert’s annual 40th birthday party tradition. Each year after Santa Barbara’s Solstice Parade, friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances would gather at the Periwinkle home to celebrate Albert’s annual 40th. You couldn’t miss Albert, always wearing his traditional bright red plaid pants, a
tie-dyed tee shirt and, if cool out, a wild Hawaiian shirt. In June of 2019, Albert celebrated his 53rd annual 40th. Jane passed away in 1996, leaving Albert to maintain the Periwinkle house and the annual 40th tradition.
Throughout Albert’s adult life he was involved in the Arts. He was a strong advocate of the local Adult Education programs where he learned pottery, glass blowing, leather work, printmaking, drawing and his love of painting.
Albert and Noel, along with other local artisans, established and organized the annual 4th of July art festival at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. The annual event ran for many years as an Old Mission parish event.
Like Albert’s grandfather, Alexander F. Harmer, Albert’s true passion was his painting. Albert’s work included oil, acrylic, and his love, watercolor. His work could be seen on display around town and at art showings. Family and friends treasured receiving Albert’s paintings for birthdays, holidays, and as a surprise.
Albert’s other love, besides his painting, was his love of wine. Together with his son Alan, they planted a small vineyard, built a small winery, and produced Albert Martin and Sons wines from Alan’s Mustang vineyard in Santa Ynez. Albert could often be seen visiting the Funk Zone wine tasting rooms. He would occasionally bring
a bottle of Martin wine to share with the tasting room staff. He was particularly fond of the owner and staff at Corks and Crowns where he spent time talking wine with the staff, owner and patrons.
As time went by, Albert met Margaret Finch and became good friends, wine aficionados, and traveling companions. Many of his later watercolors were from travel experiences with Margaret.
Albert was fascinated with how his children would ask him questions about his childhood and his life in general. Being Albert, he decided to write his autobiography. And that he did, The Book of Albert. Published in 2017, the book tells of his childhood growing up in LA in the 30’s and 40’s and details his life with entertaining stories, fascinating history, humor and love.
Albert is survived by his sister Frances Brent in Bowling Green, Ohio, his children; Shannon Goodenough (Ken, son-in-law and friend), Alan, Roselyn (Doug Child), Colleen (Deb), William (Eman), Reid Harper (Rhandee), and
Jenni Harper Howell. Grandchildren; Kellie Cantwell, Jill Hughes (Brian), Alexander Cantwell, Eric Goodenough (Amber), Seana Goodenough, (Max Saienko), and Patrick Martin (Donna). Great-grandchildren; Oliver Albert
Martin, Hazel Hughes, Fiona Hughes, and Roan Saienko-Goodenough.
The family would like to thank the “Periwinkle Gang” for being such good neighbors, especially Joanne, for keeping a watchful eye on Albert.
We would also like to thank the Doctors and staff at Sansum Clinic for providing excellent medical care for Albert. Special thanks to the Sansum Cardiologists, Pain Management, Dr. Couvillion, Dr. Sharma, and Dr. Ingersoll.
Additionally, very special thank you to both Jenni Harper, who guided Albert and the family through Albert’s final
days, and to Shannon for her years of selfless and dedicated caring for Albert.
A message to Dad, Grandpa Al, Great-Grandpa Al, and Albert:
Thank you for being our inspiration and hero. You have taught us integrity, patience, perseverance, and gratitude. You have taught us to work hard, to study hard, and to go the extra mile. You have inspired us to live life to the fullest. You have taught us to love nature and appreciate each and every day. You have taught us the importance of family. Thank you for having been the wonderful person we were blessed with in our lives. Albert Alexander Martin passed peacefully on May 9, 2020 in his Moody Sisters’ Periwinkle cottage. His body could no longer support the weight of his boundless spirit.