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California Genealogy and History Archives


San Bernardino County


Gerald Joseph "Joe" Martin

age 84, of Camarillo, Calif., passed away on July 12, 2013, after a reoccurrence of a health issue he had been battling for a few years.

Joe Martin was born on April 20, 1929, to Harry Ashton Martin and Jane Grace Bryan Martin in Dearborn, Mich. He was raised in Inkster, Mich., and attended Roosevelt High School in Dearborn before enlisting in the U.S. Army after World War II. With more than 21 years of active duty, Joe retired from the United States Air Force in 1969 as a Master Sergeant. He was an aerial photographer as well as an aviation simulator technician. He continued his career with aviation simulators with Flight Safety in Long Beach, Calif., for 26 years, retiring in 1996.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Harry (Butch) Martin and Harold (Hap) Martin; and his sister, Evelyn Samonek. Joe is survived by his sister, Geraldine Richards, of South Carolina; niece Jorja Hicks Sanders, her son, Mike Hicks and his wife Linda, their children and grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Joe enjoyed visiting many countries while in the Air Force as well as being stationed at bases throughout the USA. He was a member of the flight crews for B-17, B-25, B-29 and B-50 airplanes when performing aerial photography. He often spoke of his exploits and adventures during his Air Force career, and his good friend, Bill Lee of Atlanta, Ga. Joe was also active in the Boy Scouts of America by serving as a scout leader for both Cub and Boy Scout troops.

He took great pride in designing and building two cabins in Sugarloaf, Calif., near the city of Big Bear. The first home was a small geodesic dome, and he used it mostly during the winters. He was an avid skier, skiing until after his 80th birthday. He spent one season as a ski instructor. Joe's second cabin was a two-story log cabin where he lived most of his retirement, moving to Camarillo in 2012 because of his declining health. While living in Sugarloaf, he volunteered by serving on the Big Bear Citizens Patrol and as a naturalist at the Discovery Center. He also spent many happy hours at the Senior Center. He enjoyed many years with his adopted family, Pete and Leslie Peterson and their daughters, Emily and Katie. He enjoyed skiing with the girls after teaching them to ski. It was in this relationship he earned the honorary title of Uncle Joe. For the next 30 years he was known as Uncle Joe to his friends and neighbors. The log cabin has a wood carving on the lawn featuring a mama bear and two cubs, representing Leslie, Emily and Katie.

Joe loved to celebrate holidays and his birthdays, often hosting his friends at Club 33 at Disneyland. Emily and her husband, Steve Reeves, live nearby in Simi Valley, Calif.,. Their children, Abigail and Ryan, also grew up loving Uncle Joe, especially when he would surprise them by bringing them a pickup truckload of snow to their home and building a snowman.

During the last few years, Joe enjoyed his big-screen TV by watching western movies and the Food Network. He liked to cook and enjoyed participating in family holiday meals. Joe lived with Pete and Leslie on and off in his later years during the times he needed assistance due to his health issues. He anticipated many years of fishing at Lake Casitas after purchasing a pontoon boat earlier this year. One friend summed up their relationship by saying, "Being with Uncle Joe was like riding a roller coaster!"

Arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayr Funeral Home and Crematory, 3150 Loma Vista Rd., Ventura. Condolences may be left at

"Big Bear Grizzly" Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:24 am
Submitted by: Peggy Hooper