The Billings Outpost

Charles R. ‘Charlie’ Martin

Charles Robert “Charlie” Martin, 98, a rancher, boat builder, railroader, sailor and hunter, died April 7, 2012, at Valley Health Care Center in Billings after enduring Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade.

He was born to Clarence S. and Blanche R. Martin in Tyndal, S.D., on Oct. 6, 1913. When he was a baby, his family moved to Montana. In high school, he participated in track and excelled in football, graduating from Three Forks High School in 1932.

He served in the Navy from 1934 to 1938, with home port in San Diego, Calif. He shook hands with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on board his ship. He was discharged just prior to World War II but remained in the San Diego area in support of the war effort as an electrician building military installations.

He married Manzanita E. “Nita” Taylor on June 25, 1939. They settled on a ranch in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, where he raised Angus cattle and Tennessee walking horses.

He left the ranch for boat building in Somers on Flathead Lake. Next he ran a water taxi from Polson. A railroading job in Three Forks eventually led him to a long-term occupation for the Milwaukee in Deer Lodge. He had a side business as a gunsmith that evolved into the establishment of Powell Sporting Goods in Deer Lodge.

In the mid-1950s he founded a water skiing club for high school students and young adults. The group performed the first-ever ski show in the Deer Lodge area on Rock Creek Lake.

After serving in the Naval Reserve, he decided to return to active duty for two years. After the completion of active duty in 1958, he worked at Warm Springs State Hospital as a master electrician. Eventually he became maintenance supervisor.

Approaching retirement, he built a yacht from a bare hull and in 1979 began a leisurely sailing trip around the world with his wife and two cats. They sailed for 10 years, taking long breaks, until their boat was destroyed in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo on the island of Culebra.

They settled in Willow Creek, in the family home of his parents. In 2003 they moved to Billings to be near family.

He had belonged to the Masonic Lodge for 65 years and to gun clubs wherever he was living.

Survivors include his wife; a daughter, Dianne McDermand; a son, Craig of Kremlin; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Cremains will be interred in Mount Green Cemetery in Willow Creek at 2 p.m. May 19. Remington Letcher Funeral Services was in charge of arrangements.

Donations may be made to the Montana Wildlife Federation, P.O. Box 1175, Helena, MT 59624 or


Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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