Ruth M. Martinez

1926 — 2014

Ruth Marie Lundberg was born to Martin and Anna Lundberg in Selah, Washington on March 3, 1926. She and her older brother Richard grew up on a small apple farm, and the family attended the Selah Covenant Church. Childhood memories included helping with the apple harvests after school, going on family picnics in the mountains, and youth camp on “the coast.”

After high school, Ruth headed over the mountains to Seattle Pacific College, where she graduated in 1949 with a degree in nursing. She landed her first job as a Registered Nurse at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, but the Midwestern winter soon sent her in search of a more amenable climate. This she found in San Jose, California, where she established her life, quickly becoming involved in the First Covenant Church. As a church pianist, she caught the attention of a handsome boxer named Mac Martinez, and the two were soon married in 1956. Ruth and Mac were blessed with four children: Calvin, Jeni (Pfeiffer), Brian, and Denise (Joyce).

Ruth and Mac embraced each other’s heritage as their own, she learning Spanish, he learning Swedish. Their dinner table was famous for juxtaposing classic dishes from both Mexico and Scandinavia. Travel and time abroad was a high point in their lives together. The couple served as missionaries in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from 1960-1961, when Calvin was 2 and Jeni was 11 months. In their later life, they would live in Mexico and Sweden, each time for half a year.

Correspondence was a priority for Ruth, and she had an amazing ability to keep track of people and their birthdays and significant events, writing to them and keeping them in her prayers. Her passions for music, as well as the 49ers and Lakers, are legendary. In 1998, she and Mac moved to Santa Barbara, where they enjoyed their community of friends at the Samarkand.

Ruth Martinez was preceded in death by her son Calvin in 1993; she is survived by her husband, Mac; her brother, Richard Lundberg; her children; two grandchildren, Calvin and Fionnan; and many relatives and friends. Ruth and Mac’s 58th anniversary was celebrated the day before she passed away, listening to live music played by a harpist.

—Gathered by the Martinez and Lundberg families

[Memorials are directed to BU CTE Center (Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center) to support research in degenerative brain disease among athletes with repetitive brain trauma]