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Jüri Martinson, 83, of Storrs, died Dec 26, 2019.

 

He was born July 12, 1936 in Tallinn, Estonia to Märt Martinson and Mari Kõiva of Viljandi, the district that his father represented in the Estonian Parliament.

 

During the German and two Russian occupations in World War II, his father was imprisoned and killed by the Communists, his two older brothers were sent to Siberian labor camps. His mother escaped with her four youngest children to Germany. They were able to reach the United States in May 1949 and settled in Willimantic, Connecticut.


He was attending UCONN when his mother died and he was sustained by the Estonian community, working summers as a masonry apprentice in Lakewood, NJ to earn his tuition money.

 

He graduated in 1959 as a 1st Lieutenant from the R.O.T.C. program and entered the Infantry branch of the U.S. Army. Even without a sense of direction and with a fear of heights, he was able to successfully navigate the Ranger and Paratrooper schools in Fort Benning, Georgia.


In 1965, he married Eve Kubja, from Syracuse, NY.  They had been children together in the Displaced Persons’ camp in Geisligen, Germany.

 

He served 2 years in Vietnam with true purpose and was an Honor graduate of the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, KS. He earned a Masters of History at the University of Missouri and finished his army career of 22 years as LTC and an Associate Professor and Director of the European History Department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service.


In 1982, he moved with his family back to CT and worked as Director of Productions for Kaman Aerospace in Bloomfield, building helicopters, until his retirement. He bought an old stone house and built his own stone garage and three stone fireplaces. He loved cutting firewood and planting trees in equal measure. His family joked that he had a unique gift for being able to teach history, regardless of the conversation.

 

For nearly 20 years, he served on the Board of Directors of the Nordic Press in NYC, the publisher of the Estonian newspaper Vaba Eesti Sõna and was a long time representative in the Estonian American National Council.

 

He, also, taught history in the Estonian Supplementary School in N.Y., was one of the founding members of Estonian Boy Scout Troop Vikerlased in Connecticut, sang in Conn. mixed chorus and was an active member of the Connecticut Estonian Society.

 

All four of his children speak fluent Estonian as this was the primary language spoken at home.


He lived a full life despite having chronic lymphocytic leukemia for 18 years, with uncomplaining, stoic fortitude.

 

The dedicated patriotism, ethical fidelity and sense of duty to nation and people engendered in Jüri by his upbringing were carried through, directly, into the sense of devotion, service and gratitude he felt and displayed for his adopted homeland in the United States and in the manner in which he conducted all of his duties. His dual patriotism was profound and he was always grateful for the refuge and opportunities that America had given him.


He is survived by his wife of 54 years and 4 children; son Torm Martinson and wife Tracy, with children Sofia Elyss and Bryon Hugo, of Delray Beach, FL; daughter Heli Quick and husband Christopher, with children Kean Patrick, Brogan Ristik and Kiili Mari of Ridgefield, CT; son Karru Martinson and wife Kat, with sons Torm William and Finn Jüri, of NYC and daughter Kia Liis Martinson, with sons Kelker and Rutger Tallinn, of CT. 

 

He is also survived by his sister, Aime Andra and nephew Tenno, of NYC; his brother Märt and wife Kiku, with nephew Eiki and niece Miia Mari Ollesh and husband Samuel, of Florida and his sister Marje Käbin of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.


After the restoration of the independence of Estonia, in 1991, he was able to reconnect with his many relatives there. He enjoyed further travel with his grandchildren to Scotland and around the world to Hong Kong and Singapore, where he visited the innovative botanical Gardens by the Bay and celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.


A Spring memorial service will be held.

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