Willis “Bill” Martin, 87, local businessman, rancher and farmer, passed away on April 3, 2021, at the Auburn Regional Medical Center in King County.
Bill was born in The Dalles, Ore., on Nov. 27, 1933, to Paul and Geraldine Martin. Bill graduated from The Dalles High School in 1952. In 1957, after working at The Dalles Soda Works, he, along with World War II bomber pilot Herb Gedney, moved to Grays Harbor to form Harbor Pacific Bottling, Inc., a Pepsi-Cola franchise for Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. Bill was known for his innovative nature and was a leader in the formation of Columbia Bottlers Group, a multi-million case production center co-op formed to service the needs of Pepsi bottlers throughout the state. For 60 years, Bill owned and operated Harbor Pacific Bottling, Inc. which now operates under the ownership of his two sons.
Bill married his childhood neighbor and sweetheart, Joan Woolsey, on Sept. 17, 1957, at the First Presbyterian Church in Aberdeen, Wash. In addition to their family, Bill and Joan’s true passion together was animals. While enjoying animals of all sizes, Bill particularly explored his passion for horses, llamas, and yaks at their farm in Elma. Bill was a member of the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Posse, raised and raced horses at tracks such as Longacres and Portland Meadows, imported llamas from Bolivia and raised Tibetan yaks. Bill also actively enjoyed farming and managing their ranch in Elma until the last of his days with us.
Bill was also very active in and contributed back to his community in many ways. He was the leader of the formation and construction of Harbor Park, a five-furlong horse track operated at the Elma Fairgrounds from 1982 until 1997. The nearly all volunteer operation was organized by Bill each year who was known to have been pretty convincing in his methods to get others to volunteer their time for the event which successfully brought many people to the Grays Harbor community each year.
Bill is survived by his wife, Joan Martin; his two sons, Shawn D. (Lois) Martin of Aberdeen, and Timothy (Jackie) Martin of Aberdeen; his two daughters, Kelly Martin (Tim Collins) of Cle Elum, Wash., and Patricia (Larry) Carter of Elma, Wash.; along with eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Bill’s family ask that any memorial donations honoring him be made to PAWS of Grays Harbor.
He was interred at the Elma Masonic Cemetery during a private ceremony on April 12. A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at 1 p.m. on May 22 at the family property in Elma. Please contact Tim Martin at 360-470-3476 or email email@example.com for details.
Arrangements are entrusted to Twibell’s Fern Hill Funeral Home in Aberdeen.