Terry was a good man. We love him and we miss him.
He may be known to his friends in Sequim as an avid birder, but his life before retirement was
He was born in 1949 near Bainbridge, Georgia, the eldest son of Joan Louise Nelson, née
Austin. Terry and his three younger siblings grew up on military bases across the USA, as his
stepfather, Delbert, made a career with the US Marine Corps. He briefly held the high jump
record at his high school. He discovered the joy of reading; he protected the weak; he proved
the doubters wrong.
As a young man, he was a proud hippie—with long waves of thick brown hair, living a nomadic
lifestyle, embracing peace, love, and music. James Taylor was a lifelong favorite musician. In
California, Terry tended an avocado orchard, commuting on horseback. In the desert, he
worked at a copper mine. He drove a florist van, delivering flowers. He learned to operate a
road-grader. In Idaho, he milked cows for his dad in the pre-dawn hours before classes at
Boise State University, graduating in 1980 with a nursing degree.
In that year and the next, he enjoyed the babyhood of his daughter Rachael. He had loving
memories of that special time.
Terry and I met on a psych ward. We were both RNs at a locked inpatient psychiatric unit at
Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He caught my eye at first glance! It was another five
years before we married. We bought a boat, sailed to Alaska (not really knowing much about
what we were doing), lived at the dock through a rainy Ketchikan winter, and settled in Sequim
The second half of his life was built around home and family. There was heartache and joy. We
built a little house in the big woods. He wholeheartedly loved and supported our children, and
told them so—there was no room for doubt. He read poetry to Emma, accompanied her on
guitar for a duet of "Blackberry Blossom" in third grade, swam with both kids in faraway places,
taught Forrest to read by playing Zelda together, always shared a love of music with Forrest,
and led our forages into the woods in the pouring rain in search of wild mushrooms. He built a
sailboat, “Cahoots.” He designed an annual Christmas card, usually a block-printed bird. We
welcomed puppies, hatched chickens who laid very dark brown eggs, milked goats, and kept
bees. We laughed together all the time.
Ever curious, he had a thousand interests. On his bookshelf are novels, books on birds, coral
reefs, scuba, amphibians, bamboos, poetry, history, spirituality, artists, photography, and travel,
but mostly birds. Ever adventurous, we traveled to Fiji together when Emma was a baby, and to
Thailand as a family of four in 1999, spending seven weeks in Thailand’s sun. Terry went back a
few times, and also to Cambodia, the Philippines, Nicaragua and to Warbler Fest in Ohio.
Hearing a bird, identifying it by its song, and capturing a decent photo brought him joy. On a
clear day, he pedaled his trike on the Olympic Discovery Trail or met up with fellow bird
enthusiasts on a bird walk at the Dungeness River Audubon Center. He loved the natural world
and retained a wealth of knowledge, our resident expert.
He celebrated his 70th birthday last Fall.
Those who knew him the best loved him the most: his wife Ruth Barclay, our children Emma
Martin and Forrest Martin, and Forrest’s wife Ria. Others who have been dear in his life include
his daughter Rachael Martin, his sister Leeanne Shannon and her husband Patrick, his brother
Forrest Nelson, and his departed sister Darle Nelson.
We miss Terry terribly. He was a good man.
To plant a tree in memory of Terry Coy Martin, please visit our tribute store.