About Charlotte Y. Martin
Charlotte Yeoman Martin was a child of the Big Sky country of Montana, born December 24, 1919 in Butte, raised near Basin, and schooled in Anaconda. Early in life she showed artistic talent and a love of the outdoors. Learning to fish at a young age, she caught her first prize trout when she was 6. In high school she was honor student, thespian, and tallest girl on the basketball team. Her family could not afford to supplement a scholarship awarded her by Washington State University, so she attended Mrs. Munson’s Secretarial School in San Francisco. Later she met and married Dan Martin, son of Clarence Martin, former governor of Washington State. They lived first in Seattle and then moved to Los Angeles, where Dan owned a Cadillac dealership. During this time they adopted three children. The young family spent time in Washington DC while Dan was Undersecretary of Commerce for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and Charlotte worked to help establish Head Start, and support a variety of young musicians.
For most of her adult life, Charlotte moved among the wealthy and elite, and counted prime ministers, business executives, university presidents and movie stars among her friends, but she always identified herself as Charlotte Martin from Montana. She was “an original”, outspoken and non-conformist, one of the first women to wear (elegant) pants suits in the nation’s capitol. The Martins were avid sports fans. Charlotte played basketball, volleyball, tennis and soccer in high school; Dan was an owner of the Los Angeles Rams. The couple funded Martin Stadium and Academic Complex at Washington State University, Pullman, and named it for Dan’s father. Charlotte expanded the Student Athletic Center that now bears her name at Gonzaga University, Spokane. They also endowed scholarships at both Universities, and supported young people in artistic, academic and athletic enterprises.
Charlotte had a deep commitment to youth: “I’m interested in young people and their education. There’s a great deal that needs to be done on their behalf, and unless private individuals step forward and offer their help, it won’t get done.”
One Charlotte legend (there are many) tells that Charlotte sent Dan out to buy her a little fishing cabin in Montana, and Dan came home with a private island and eleven bedroom lodge in the Canadian San Juans. Gooch Island has one hundred heavily-forested acres, with coves and cliffs, sand beaches and winding trails. On the islandCharlotte enjoyed playing with family, arranging and painting flowers, exploring the magnificent natural setting, and having the opportunity to take her friends fishing– friends like John Wayne, Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and California Governor Pat Brown.
When Dan died in 1976, Charlotte carried on with his philanthropic interests, and developed her own. She died in 1987 and her memorial service was on Gooch Island. Shortly before her death, she set up the Charlotte Y. Martin Foundation to ensure continued support of the causes she cared about: Culture, athletics and education for youth, and protection of wildlife and habitat. Around that time, someone asked why she was so generous with her money, she said “When the man up there calls you, you got to put your boots on and go… And there ain’t no pockets in them shrouds.”