Thursday, October 6, 2022

Dottie Martin 1928-2012; Longtime Coronadan

-A Coronado Free Spirit –

This beautiful photo of Dottie Martin was taken in 1960, in Springfield, Virginia, by her husband Richard.

 CORONADO — Whether climbing to the top of the High Sierras or the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Dottie Martin filled her life with an unquenchable thirst for adventure, history, knowledge and the great outdoors.

Yet, in contrast to her Tomboyish physical adventures, Dottie had an undeniable feminine elegance about her. She fastidiously dressed with a dedication to her particular colors and moods. She was a beautiful, strikingly lovely lady, who moved with a Queenly grace.

Dottie had an intense appreciation for the arts, and in particular gardens, statuary and architecture. Her Coronado yard was rewarded by the Coronado Floral Association year after year for the unique front walkway she designed, inspired by art she experienced in her travels.

This unusual walkway starts at her front door, and flows down the steps, along the walk, and out to the sidewalk resembling a graceful stream of water with dolphins. The work, patterned after the art of James Hubbell, continues to stop onlookers in their tracks.

Climbing the High Sierras was one of the items at the top of Dottie Martin’s bucket list.

Dorothy Cherry Martin, long-time Coronado resident and wife of Captain Richard W. Martin (USN, ret), passed away May 12, at the age of 83 of complications from pneumonia.

Dottie was born in 1928, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Harry and Mildred Cherry. She majored in English and minored in psychology, graduating from Wilson’s Teacher’s College (now the University of the District of Columbia) with a Bachelor of Science degree. Her loves were counseling and literature.

This photo was taken in 2005, at husband Dick’s 55th Naval Academy reunion.

“We were born the same day, two years apart,” said brother Budd Cherry. “I cherished my older sister from that first time we gazed through the upstairs window in search of Santa Claus, only to hear bells and ‘know’ that he was indeed real. She seemed to know about everything – what was going on in Europe, how to sleep more soundly, how to read faster, how to be ready for school. I learned early on to listen to Dottie’s advice.”

Dottie taught high school English in the public school system in Virginia before meeting her husband-to-be, Richard Martin, a handsome young Naval officer. He was attending the US Naval Academy and they met on a blind date.

She often referred to their four children – Richard, Cherry, Tracy and Jon – as, “the variety pack,” although daughter Cherry suggested a better name might have been, “the wild bunch.”

Seen here at Dick’s Change-of-Command Ceremony in 1972 are, from left, Rick, Tracy, Dottie, Dick, Cherry and Jon. Captain Martin had just become the new commanding officer at Coronado’s Naval Air Rework Facility on North Island.

 As a Navy wife, Dottie took on the mantle of family leadership when Dick was away on Naval commitments. She took great pride in her children both in their formative years and as adults, as they married, established families, and settled into their own lives.

Growing up, the children remembered their mother imparting a love for the written word to them. They remember her reading to them before bedtime from classic literature.

Dottie was always reading and on a life-long quest for knowledge. She was involved in writing, poetry and book groups and was not shy about volunteering in her community. Son-in-law Rick Williams, in going through Dottie’s writings, found this quote: “The present moment is all I have … life is a non-stop series of opportunities to learn.” It perfectly sums up Dottie’s lust for life’s lessons.

Dottie believed that hidden inside every frog was a Prince. Locating statuary such as this made her many trips abroad even more exciting.

Daughter-in-law Ann Martin said even the thought of Dottie makes her smile. “She had this habit of bursting forth with a spontaneous limerick of her own design, or a poem that was usually at least vaguely ‘on topic,’ and dredged up from what she called, ‘a rusty, dusty corner’ of her brain,” said Ann. “Personally, I don’t think she had any rusty, dusty corners in her brain. I imagine that all of her corners were artistically arranged, constantly accessible and decorated with her favorite Mediterranean colors.”

Dottie traveled to France, India, Nepal, Tibet, Guatemala, Israel, England, Scotland, Panama, the Caribbean, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Alaska and Italy just to name a few destinations. At 50 she climbed to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The tried and true cucumber treatment seems to have this grandchild slightly baffled.

 Dottie was also on a spiritual journey. She sought to understand her soul through the study of Jungian psychology. She came to embrace Buddhist thought and principles for governing her life. In recent years, however, she aligned herself with the Coronado Christ Episcopal Church because she valued their ecumenical underpinnings and liked that they encouraged open-minded spiritual discussions. In the end, her church provided great spiritual comfort for her.

“She was definitely an intellectual with many varied interests,” said her husband, Richard Martin. “Her library was full of poetry, prose, philosophy and works of many religious beliefs with emphasis on the writings of Carl Jung.”

Dottie was a member of American MENSA, Coronado Christ Episcopal Church, past director of Friends of Jung Center, and past president of the San Diego chapter of that organization.

Dottie always managed to find time for a good, old-fashioned, civilized cup of hot tea. Here she is seen in the old hotel Conwy in Wales.

She was active as a volunteer at the Coronado Public Library and Coronado Hospital for many years. She volunteered at the Church of Christ Thrift Shop, taught reading classes locally and was a member of numerous poetry and book groups.

Dottie Martin is survived by her husband Richard of Coronado; brother Budd Cherry of San Diego; Son Richard Jr. (Patty) of Poway; daughters Cherry Williams (Rick) of Portland and Tracy Murton (Ian) of Atascadero; and son Jon (Ann), also of Poway. Six grandchildren also survive her. She was an organ donor.

Services were held recently at Coronado Christ Episcopal Church and her ashes will be interred in the Fort Rosecrans Cemetery Columbarium. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in the name of Dorothy Cherry-Martin to Coronado Christ Episcopal Church and the American Heart Association.

From all of us who knew and loved you, from everyone whom you left inspired and looking at life a little differently, we’ll miss you Dottie … and the bright light you cast.


This final tribute prepared by Joe Ditler and For information on capturing your loved ones’ stories, contact 619.435.0767 or




Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call, or (619) 742-1034.