John Martinis Sr., Everett lawmaker, businessman, dies at 82

EVERETT — The son of a Slavic immigrant fisherman, John Martinis grew up in Everett, never far from the water.

He became a skilled angler in his own right as well as a resourceful politician. Yet on the wharf or behind the dais he wasn’t one for telling whoppers.

The Everett High School graduate who built a reputation for finding compromise as a state lawmaker and Snohomish County government leader died over the weekend in Anacortes. He was 82.

“What he really liked the most was to be in the thick of it all,” his son, John Martinis, said.

Before he ventured into politics, Martinis opened a sporting goods store on Broadway in Everett. To many of his customers, he was known as “Big John.”

Today, his son runs a similar business along the same thoroughfare. He still hears stories from people who would visit his father’s shop about some fishing tip he shared years ago or about a simple act of kindness he showed to teenagers straddling life’s fences.

Martinis broke into politics in the 1960s.

In 1967 Martinis won a spot on the Port of Everett’s board of commissioners where he pushed hard to create jobs.

The following year, the Everett Democrat was elected to the Legislature where he would serve as chairman of the House transportation and natural resources committees. Over the years, Martinis was known for his commitment to protecting the environment. He spent 14 years as a state lawmaker.

In 1975, Gov. Dan Evans appointed Martinis to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission that helped manage fisheries and shellfish resources on the Pacific Coast.

In 1984, he was elected to the Snohomish County Council. He resigned that position to serve as deputy to Snohomish County Executive Willis Tucker.

His children say Martinis was particularly proud of his efforts to find money and other resources to develop the 14th Street Boat Launch at the Port of Everett.

When Martinis retired from politics in his 60s, he didn’t look back.

He moved to Guemes Island off Anacortes where he enjoyed fishing, crabbing and shrimping. He was on the water at every opportunity.

His son, John, looks back with fond memories about the years he spent in his father’s shop and alongside him fishing.

There was no rivalry for the biggest fish.

“We fished together all our lives,” he said. “I feel so lucky.”

His daughter, Paulette Clayton, said there was just one thing her dad seemed to enjoy more than fishing: his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I think he really considered them as his wealth at the end of his life,” she said.

A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Monday at the Evans Funeral Chapel in Anacortes

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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