Judy Ann Martinson (Smithhisler) | Nome’s nugget
Judy Ann Martinson (Smithhisler), 67, was released from all earthly burdens on Sunday August 8, 2021 in Nome, Alaska.
Born October 16, 1953 in Mt. Vernon Ohio to Wanda and Dale Smithhisler, Judy was one of three siblings, older sister Barbara and younger brother Larry. She grew up on a farm outside of Butler, Ohio, and often mingled with the local Amish community. She attended and graduated from Clear Fork High School, where she was Lead Majorette and FFA Queen in her senior year. She was well known for her baton skills, including flaming batons at local football matches. She graduated at the age of 17 and soon after spent time in Guam, San Leandro, Calif., And Tacoma, WA, where she was a cosmetologist and a talented hairstylist and earned an associate degree in business.
Judy traveled to Nome in 1975 to visit her family, where on an excursion with her parents visiting friends’ mining camp on the Kougarok River near Black Dome, they found themselves dangerously stuck in the mud. and had to be rescued by a bulldozer operated by Doug Martinson. He had gone looking after hearing a KNOM hotline and found them 11 miles away. Later that morning, Judy and Doug quickly had their first date on this same bulldozer. The bulldozer was the only car they had, as the army truck had no junkyard. They quickly fell in love and he became the love of her life. They were married in Cottonwood, on the banks of the River Pilgrim outside of Nome in 1977. She had a stepson Ryan Douglas, and later in 1979 they welcomed their first daughter Sari Ann and in 1980 , they welcomed their second daughter, Jessa Lynn.
Doug and Judy began to build their lives in Nome, where Judy sold Mary Kay cosmetics, often delivering dog sleds in the winter and summer, using a bright red 1956 Mack dump truck named enduringly “Old.” snort ”. Having no daycare and still doing everything herself, the young girls, Sari and Jessa played with their baby dolls and coloring books on the floor while Judy carried gravel and makeup. Soon after, she had sold enough products (to both men and women – she was very proud of this) and was invited to Texas to meet Mary Kay herself. His accomplishments in this area allowed them to earn enough money between Doug working for Alaska Gold in the summer and Crabbing during the winter months to begin funding what would become their construction business.
Over the years, they started winning construction projects all over the Bering Strait region. They traveled with their whole family. They loaded all their equipment onto barges and landing craft, including their dogs and horses, and set up a camp to house the crew and finish the job. NorthCoast Construction has grown into a successful construction company where it proudly built roads, trails, created employment opportunities, led church youth groups, and made unforgettable bonds with families across the region. She operated all the equipment, she conducted all the submissions, handled all the paperwork, and was even the camp cook wherever they went. Including the use of an airplane radio to manage inbound and outbound flights on projects where we were reconstructing runways.
Her faith in God has seen her and Doug go through the good times and the bad. No matter what life offered them, they would wake up each morning and spend time reading their Bibles and praying together. Her incredible uninterrupted search for faith has truly opened doors and led to constant opportunity. She always had a dream and the obstacles parted in front of her. She often had a saying “pretend until you do”. Her incredible faith is something that her family will be dearly missed because she has always had a dream and nothing was impossible.
In 2009, they began to realize their dream of building the Dredge No.7 Inn and began providing hospitality and lodging services to their beloved community of Nome. In addition to rentals, Dredge no. 7 Inn has grown from seven to 34 rooms. In 2012, they began building the first documented ship to be built of steel in Nome. The vessel was named “The Judy Ann” and was completed and launched in 2015. It joined the fleet of other large excavator dredgers working the gold rich seabed off Nome.
In recent years, to take advantage of a warmer climate during the long, cold winter months, Judy and Doug have started building their dream home on the Big Island of Hawaii near Kalapana.
She also founded and sponsored her own women’s softball team named “The Dredge 7 Invincibles,” where she made lifelong bonds with the team’s players and even went to state tournaments. She was widely known for her enthusiasm, often ringing her cowbell and horn that everyone loved and tolerated.
Judy is predeceased by her parents Wanda and Dale Smithhisler, her granddaughter Mackenzie Faith Haugen, her grandson Jude Robert Jennetten and her beloved aunt Janice Haynes.
She is lovingly missed by her 44-year-old husband Doug, siblings Barbara Moore and Larry Smithhisler, children Ryan, Sari and Jessa, and grandchildren Shelby, Jeremiah, Harmony, Jackson, Cassidy, Brody and Mila. As well as many extended and honorary family members, and countless past and present employees and crew.
I love you!