HARPSWELL – Ken Martin — Father and Grandfather, Teacher, Artist and Friend, died Saturday February 13th, 2016 after a two year struggle with ALS. He passed peacefully, his heart filled with love, encircled by family at his home in Harpswell.
Kenneth Alan Martin was born October 23rd 1946, the second son of R. John Martin and Dorothy Sieger. His mother often said that Ken had a natural talent for art and adventure early on. As a child, Ken made his own toys and costumes and explored the large estates — as a conquering knight or an Indian guide — where his father worked as a horticulturalist. After high school he attended the University of New Hampshire and earned a degree in Fine Arts, and began teaching at White Mountain Regional High School. In 1973, Ken and a college friend sailed off on a 25 foot sloop, the Al B. Tross, for a yearlong adventure from New Hampshire to the Bahamas. Neither knew how to sail and they learned as they went. Stories from this adventure rippled through Ken’s life —- diving overboard for dinner, and bartering fish they caught for needed repairs. Ken kept and maintained the Al B. until the day he died.
In 1974 he returned to teaching art — a profession that would become his life’s work. He married fellow teacher Elizabeth Wright in 1975 and settled in Loudon, New Hampshire. The couple’s daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, was born in 1979. After eleven years in NH, teaching, farming, and renovating a 200 year old house, the family headed northeast to Tenants Harbor, Maine in 1986. Ken continued to teach art, first at Rockland District High School and finally at Medomak Valley High School, where he is remembered for his extraordinary efforts on theater sets and for starting what would become a thriving photography department. He spent his summers on the AL B. or in his studio creating art. For several summers Ken taught darkroom photography at the Maine Media Workshops. For the past ten years he showed his work at Mars Hall Gallery in St. George.
In 1992 and 1996 Ken went to the Amazon Rainforest through a program called ACEER, a foundation supporting environmental education and research. On the first trip he attended an educators’ workshop with support from the Audubon Society. Ken took thousands of beautiful photographs featuring the animals, vegetation and people along the Napo River of the Peruvian Rainforest. He befriended a young indigenous artist and began to teach him block printing. When he returned to Maine he went to many community groups and schools, sharing his adventures and the art he had made and collected. The rainforest continued to inspire his art and his life thereafter.
Ken had many great loves in his life — sailing the ocean and exploring islands, making art in various media, and being in the outdoors. He enjoyed running, biking, stargazing, canoeing and camping in the Southwest. Ken was a rock runner along the shores of the St George Peninsula. He never turned away from an opportunity for adventure in the beauty of nature.
In recent years Ken shared his life with Kathleen Ahearn. The couple lived in a cottage on a cove in Harpswell, where Ken made art and watched the tides and the shorebirds come and go until the end of his life. In his final months, he received expert loving care from Kathleen, Hospice of Southern Maine, CHANS, his daughter Sarah, and Sarah’s mother Elizabeth. A special thanks to Amy Haible who supported all of us in many ways.
Ken is predeceased by his parents, Dorothy and R. John Martin. He is survived by his partner, Kathleen Ahearn of Harpswell Maine; his daughter, Sarah Martin Kay, of Rockland ME and husband Matthew; his former wife, Elizabeth Martin, who remained a close friend; his brother, Curtis Martin, and wife Sallie of Bernardsville NJ; two grandchildren, Jackson Martin Kay and Isla Elizabeth Kay, who adored their “Papa.” Ken leaves two stepchildren, Jennifer Hodges of New York City, and Christopher Hodges and wife Tiffany of Thornton, NH, their sons Kyle and Drew Hodges, along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial art reception for Ken will be announced at a later date. Donations in Ken’s memory may be made to the Sierra Club or the Maine Nature Conservancy.
Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.FuneralAlternatives.net.
Arrangements are under the care of Funeral Alternatives, 8 Pleasant St. Brunswick.