Nature 14

Martha Sulfridge

October 12, 1952 ~ October 21, 2023 (age 71) 71 Years Old

Martha Sulfridge Obituary

Even at an early age Martha Sulfridge was an independent thinker. When her father told his children they would have to earn money if they wanted another ski vacation in Canada, seven-year-old Martha saddled up a family horse and sold rides for 25 cents in the front pasture. She was born to Peggy and Hugh Sulfridge on October 12, 1952, in Saginaw, Michigan. She was born with self- knowledge and distinctive artistic talent. She emerged with fearless athleticism whether on water skis, snow skis or horseback.

Martha learned to ski on those family trips to Quebec from a WWII winter warfare instructor. His style suited her, and she sported it well on the runs at Boyne Mountain. As the youngest of the Sulfridge four siblings, Martha enjoyed freedom to explore and expand a curiosity gifted adolescents require. Summer vacations in Horton Bay and Boyne City allowed Martha to make a Red Fox Inn circle of friends who remain lifelong companions. One of them, Tony Williams, became her husband.

The couple bought a ’67 Donzi and made the boat fly through Lake Charlevoix water. They skied before work and after work, each becoming champion water-skiers. Martha completed a full slalom course despite women being required to ski only a half course. And, she won.

In 1978, their son was born. They named him Homer Charles Williams after his paternal great-grandfather. Lake Charlevoix had become the canvas on which she would watercolor with her skis. But, motherhood brought a more focused attention on capturing the expressions of people, animals, landscapes and bringing them to life on paper, glass, clay. Young Homer holding a cat and dog became the model for Charlevoix County Humane Society’s logo while she was part owner of Finelines, Inc. a marketing and advertising partnership in Boyne City.

When Martha relocated to Colorado, she became an active member of the Art Student’s League. On the encouragement of a friend and potter, Martha began sculpting. In the West, she rediscovered the thrill of horse riding and participated in Team Roping competitions on her beloved Roan horse, Mordikai. She rendered horses in clay that were later bronzed. Sport and Art were the complements that she crafted to perfection.

In 2009, Martha returned to Boyne City where she became an activist for the arts. She was a member of the Main Street Committee and organized downtown sculpture installations. Her most generous gift to the community was her own sculpture of “Seamus” a lumberman who balances atop a floating log while he guides the white pine down the Boyne River. This life-sized sculpture was engineered by Andre Poineau and Wally Barkley and is placed in the Boyne River next to Old City Park. It is testament to the forebearers of the city Martha loved.

Martha’s work in process is an 18 inch model of young Ernest Hemingway pulling a fish out of the Horton Creek. This boy of clay wears the expression of unadulterated joy that she realized in her own youth. Martha selected a sculptor to finish a larger version of her creation that, once bronzed, is destined for placement in Horton Bay.

Yet, her greatest work of art is the son she shaped to be both fearless and generous. Homer remembers his mother not long before her death on October 21, 2023 driving the red Donzi and plying the waters of Lake Charlevoix full speed ahead.

Martha is survived by her son Homer (Erin) Williams, Boyne City; sisters: Becky Wynn, Colorado, Mary Phillips, Boyne City; brother, Peter Sulfridge, Freeland; granddaughters: Lexi and Sadie Knox, Arkansas, and many nieces and nephews.

Arrangements  in the care of Stackus Funeral Home of Boyne City, Michigan.

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