Cover photo for James Earl Martin's Obituary
James Earl Martin Profile Photo
1939 James 2022

James Earl Martin

July 7, 1939 — September 6, 2022

James Earl Martin, of Marshall, MI, died peacefully on September 6, 2022 with his loved ones by his side and in the caring hands of Hospice and Reflections Memory Care staffers of Battle Creek, MI.  Born July 7, 1939, Jim was raised in the small farming town of Cumberland, Iowa and was the only child of Margery and Wilfred Martin.  Raised by Margery, a local school teacher, and later his stepfather, Don Logue, Jim was taught the value of hard work and education at an early age, and was often employed by the local veterinarian.  Later in life he would enjoy telling stories of being in charge of pinning down pigs for their shots, but would admit the pigs often took him for a ride instead.  After excelling in baseball, basketball and academics in high school, Jim enrolled at Iowa State University and received a degree in Mathematics in 1961, while also completing the ROTC program.  Jim’s first job out of school at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI was quickly interrupted by his call-up to active service duty in the Army in 1962, where he spent two years in the Signal Corps at Fort Gordon, GA.  After fulfilling his service time, Jim was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant and returned to Ford, but his lifelong calling to service and volunteering would continue.

In 1965, Jim enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Michigan.  It was there where he met his future wife, Nancy Swenor, who was pursuing her master’s degree in Social Work.  Following graduation, Jim moved to Chicago, IL and began a career in management consulting while Nancy fulfilled a two-year commitment to work for the state of Michigan.  Jim and Nancy were married on May 17, 1969 and moved to the Chicago suburbs, forming an incredible team who would remain together for the next 53 years. He quickly realized that the travel required for a consultant did not offer the work-life balance necessary for a young family man. So, he took a job in the finance and accounting department for Kraft Foods, while earning a CPA license at night.  Jim spent the next fourteen years with the company during which time he and Nancy welcomed four sons into their Glenview home.

In 1984, Jim was offered the opportunity to join Duracell and moved the family to Ridgefield, CT.  He thrived in the position while balancing the heavy burden of work, four active children, and community service.  He coached multiple sports teams, and became the President of Ridgefield Little League, a position that required the installation of a second phone line to accommodate the deluge of calls from parents concerned about their kids’ playing time.  He was also actively involved as a board member of Green Chimneys, a residential treatment program for helping local youth to maximize their potential.

Retiring from Duracell in 1997, Jim and Nancy would spend the next chapter of their lives enjoying their vacation home in Kiawah, SC and traveling the world with friends and family.  Their love of travel took them on twelve bike trips abroad – each one reminding Jim of how it felt to go through Army basic training.  The family especially cherished the annual summer trek to Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake, where lifelong friendships were made and maintained for over 45 years, a tradition that continues for his children and grandchildren today.

In 2002, the couple returned to their midwestern roots and moved to Milford, Michigan where Jim continued his call to service by joining and leading the Detroit chapter of Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a nonprofit group of volunteers focused on mentoring entrepreneurs hoping to start and grow small businesses.  Following Jim’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Jim and Nancy decided to downsize and move to Marshall, MI in 2018 to be closer to family.

Over Jim’s long and happy life, he was a positive influence on so many people.  He was known for his kindness, generosity, gentle nature, integrity, and dedication to family.  He was deeply loved and will be greatly missed.

Jim is survived by his wife, Nancy, and four children: Jeff (Wendy) of Glen Allen, VA; Tim (Amy) of Canandaigua, NY; Chris (Melissa) of Chicago, IL; and Doug (Shannon) of Marshall, MI.  He is also survived by twelve grandchildren: Sydney, Ellie, Andrew, Patrick, John, James, Avery, Henry, George, Helen, Edward, and Charlie.

A visitation is scheduled for Friday, September 9th from 5-7 pm at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 723 US Hwy 27 N, Marshall, MI 49068.  Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, September 10th at 10:30 am at St. Mary’s Church in Marshall, MI.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jim’s memory to Marshall Community Foundation, 614 Homer Rd, Marshall, MI 49068, ; Fountain Clinic 111 Jefferson St #1, Marshall, MI 49068, ; and University of Michigan Udall Center (Parkinson’s Research), Department of Neurology Michigan Medicine Office of Development, 777 E. Eisenhower Pkwy., Suite 650, Ann Arbor, MI 48108-3273, . Please visit to view the online obituary, sign the guest book, and leave messages for the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Earl Martin, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 44

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree