CAROLINA BEACH — Rodney David Martz, 90, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at Coastal Hospice & Palliative Care, Salisbury, Maryland.
He was born Feb. 6, 1930, in Washington, D.C., to parents, Lester and Rita (Cooper) Martz. He and his siblings grew up in post-depression-era Washington, D.C., and attended church regularly with their mother.
He was a member of the Boys Club of Southeast Washington since age 7, and had many fond memories of his experiences there through his after school activities; such as swim team and lifeguarding. A free-spirited neighbor girl, Arlene Butler, later became his wife and lifelong companion. Rodney and Arlene both graduated from Eastern High School, Class of 1948, Washington, D.C.
He and Arlene married in May 1949, prior to his service in the U.S. Army/Air Force as a cartographer, which took him to Korea and Japan in the early 1950s.
After his military service, he entered the workforce stateside as a draftsman in the field of civil engineering. Over the years, his various jobs involved design and construction of large projects such as bridges, dams, and power plants. His civil engineering career took him and his family to Vienna, and Roanoke, Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Gaithersburg, Maryland; and finally, Augusta, Georgia. He retired from Bechtel Power Corporation in 1995. Post-retirement, he and Arlene got involved with some Augusta area Habitat for Humanity projects and were active in their church. He also held a few part-time construction-type jobs.
He and Arlene together raised two children, a son and a daughter, instilling in them the importance of faith, family, community, work, and fun. Despite distance, they always stayed connected with family, loved taking road trips together, and were each other’s best friend until Arlene’s passing in 2016.
Backyard projects such as fences, decks, patios, retaining walls, and sheds were second nature to Rodney. He learned to fly (acrobatic too!) while in his 40s, and kept his credentials current well into his 80s. He learned to play piano in his 60s. Later on he developed a penchant for sporting clays and target shooting. He was a member of both the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
He had a strong love of family, and he always included as many as possible. He kept in touch with extended family throughout his life, including cousins, nephews, and nieces. He cared deeply for, and was both interested and invested in the lives of his five grandchildren. He prayed for them and encouraged them. He cared for people — all people; even those with whom he disagreed. He was a good neighbor and was helpful to others when he was aware of a need. He was a born-again Christian and spirit-filled. He loved Jesus.
When asked how he was, his answer was usually, “Better than I deserve.” He may not have been a scholar, but he was certainly a gentleman. He enjoyed a variety of “tasty” foods, was not a drinker, and liked good old-fashioned ice cream.
Arlene preceded him in death in July 2016, and he held memories of their life together near and dear until his last breath. In November 2019, he sold the home he and Arlene had shared since 1983 and moved in with his daughter, Deborah, in Carolina Beach. He enjoyed sitting in a rocker on her front porch, waving at neighbors and watching the Jeeps go by on their way to Freeman Park. He loved going to breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen or Kate’s Pancake House. In Wilmington, he thought the Rueben sandwich served at The Harp was one of the best he had ever had. He liked downtown too, especially Front Street Brewery where his grandson is one of the cooks. Top that off with an ice cream treat from Kilwin’s, and he was a happy man. He had some new friends here in the Lower Cape Fear, and considered this his new home.
He is survived by his children, David Martz, and his wife, Lauren, of Salisbury, Maryland, and Deborah Martz of Carolina Beach, and her boyfriend, Thomas Mattos, of Wilmington; grandsons, Dustin Sullivan, and his girlfriend, Jenna Barba, of Wilmington, Jeffrey Phillion, and his wife, Elizabeth, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Dean Martz, and his wife, Sarah, of Fort Bragg, and Michael Phillion, and his girlfriend, Salena Bretz, of Lansing, Michigan; and granddaughter, Anna Marie Martz of Salisbury, Maryland.
Hopefully in the spring, family and friends will gather in Virginia to celebrate his, and his beloved Arlene’s, lives. His cremains will then be interred in the columbarium where hers already are.
To friends who wish to honor his memory, please consider supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Holloway Funeral Home, Salisbury, Maryland, is handling arrangements. Final interment will be in Quantico National Cemetery, Triangle, Virginia.