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Former Houghton and Kirkland City Councilman Joe Martineau dies at 91
At 21 years old, Joseph Armand Martineau lost his eye after being hit by flak, or antiaircraft fire, while flying a B24 aircraft during a World War II in Germany.
He was left with two-and-a-half years of hospitalization, physical therapy and an eye patch.
About 20 years later Martineau took more flack as a Houghton City Council member when he advocated for the merge of Houghton and the city of Kirkland.
“He was not afraid to say or do what he felt was the right thing for the city and its citizens, regardless of how it would affect his popularity,” said his daughter Yvonne Martineau.
Later, he went on to serve as a Kirkland City Councilman for 25 additional years.
“Joe” Martineau, also known as Armand by family members, passed away on Aug. 11 at the Evergreen Hospice Center from complications of a longtime battle with spinal stenosis. He was 91 years old.
Now, the Martineau family hopes to work with the city to name a Cross Kirkland Corridor railroad bridge after him, as he persuaded the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad company to rebuild it for safety reasons many years ago.
The Seattle native was born March 28, 1922 at Providence Hospital. Upon graduating from Seattle Prep in 1940, Martineau finished the Civilian Pilot Training program in Seattle, went to Seattle and Gonzaga universities and then joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942.
“Upon joining the USAAC, the Army decided that Joe’s name was way too long and would not fit on their forms,” said Jim Martineau in a biography about his father.
His birth name was Joseph Armand Amedee Letourneau Martineau.
Upon joining the Army, Joe Martineau and his “bomber” crew were bombarded during an early mission in World War II, the time in which he lost his eye.
“It puts everything in perspective,” said Terry Ellis, former Kirkland city manager who worked with Martineau from 1985-1987. “He was quite a guy.”
Joe Martineau returned home and married Annabelle Loranger on Feb. 16, 1946 at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Seattle.
The two went on to build their first homes and have six children. Joe Martineau worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Nisei Veterans, a property management firm, King County, the city of Seattle and the Seattle Master Builders Association, to which he lobbied for the construction industry to state and U.S. legislators.
But in 1961, he and his family built a new home in Houghton and he became involved in politics “almost immediately” and joined the Houghton Community Council.
“It was extremely helpful having Joe Martineau representing the Houghton side, he was key to having the consolidation go smoothly,” said former Kirkland Mayor Bill Woods. “Joe was very active early on, he was a great addition to our community.”
Woods said there was a lot of animosity from Houghton residents during the consolidation but Martineau was an advocate “because he realized Houghton was bankrupt.”
Former Mayor and Councilman Bob Neir, who knew Joe Martineau for around 50 years, outlines in his book “A City Comes of Age” a story about the “Joe Martineau Bridge” on Northeast 68th Street, which is adjacent to Lakeview Elementary school.
“Joe badgered the Burlington Northern [Santa Fe railroad company] until they came through,” Neir said. “The street was deepened; a new bridge was built.”
Yvonne Martineau said the bridge overpass was a good example of her father’s civic service.
Mayor Joan McBride said while there is no official process of how bridges are named, she said there will be a discussion and some research about the possibility of naming the bridge after Joe Martineau.
“He is a bonafide hero of our city with 27 years of commitment and work for the city,” said McBride, who knew him during his early years on the Kirkland City Council. “He is someone who made our city a beautiful and great place to be today.”
McBride recalls how passionate he was about sewer infrastructure and other city issues that many take for granted.
“Joe was a friend of infrastructure,” said Ellis. “He had a steady hand on that, probably from the work he did for the building industry. He would create the framework that others could build on.”
Ellis said Joe Martineau worked diligently to make the Rose Hill Water District acquisition happen smoothly, he was responsible for the overpass into the Totem Lake and Evergreen Hospital area from Interstate 405, and he was a force in implementing the 1990 Washington State Land Use Plan in Kirkland.
“He was integral in setting the pattern for what downtown Kirkland looks like today,” Ellis said. “Although Juanita Village was not built until later years, the land-use planning was done years ago when Joe was on the council and he played a big part in that plan too.”
“Joe was just the guy who could get things done, usually without fanfare,” said past City Manager Al Locke. “Joe was always such a good man. ‘Martineau’ was a very important name - he carried it well.”
Joe Martineau was appointed to the King County Metro Council in 1990 as a Kirkland representative. He served on the Multiservice Center of North and East King County board of directors, now known as Hopelink, he helped with the Kirkland Public Library and Peter Kirk Community Center, formerly known as the senior center.
“He never looked for publicity, he didn’t need publicity,” said Yvonne Martineau, adding that he never lost an election before he stepped down in 1993 at 73-years-old. “My sister, Susanne Banchero, remembers my dad saying, ‘You know you’ve done it right when no one knows that you’ve done it until you are gone.’”
Friends and family members will remember Joe Martineau during a service at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26 at the Holy Family Catholic Church, located at 7045 120th Ave. NE in Kirkland. The community is welcome to attend.
Joe Martineau is survived by his children Suzanne Banchero and husband Lew; Jim Martineau and wife Kathy; Tom Martineau and wife Turie; Annette Tomkins and husband John Robert; Yvonne Martineau and husband Eric Herrmann; and Therese Quig and husband Steve.
Photo below: Former city council members at the Moss Bay Celebration wearing bicentennial garters in July of 1975. From left: Joe Martineau, Al Locke, Bob Neir, Judy Frolich and Jim Henwood. CONTRIBUTED