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Tributes and Condolences
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Remembering Marty 2012  / Russ Lynas   Read >>
Remembering Marty 2012  / Russ Lynas
As the world sees the tragic capsize of the Costa Concordia, and loss of life, this event brings back memories of the Courger Ace and Marty's life trying to save the ship. I still cannot see a ship in distress six years later and not remember Mr. Marty Johnson and how fragile life is. Peace, Russ Lynas Close
Grade School and High School Friend  / Rob Nolan (Friend)  Read >>
Grade School and High School Friend  / Rob Nolan (Friend)
Marty and I lived across the street from each other from about 6th through 12th grade. We went to school together at the St. Louis Priory (7th -12th), and Marty spent his senior year living with me and my family when the rest of the Johnson clan moved out of town. Unfortunately, Marty and I did not keep up after high school, although I never doubted where his passion for Naval Architecture would take him. He was eager to get to Webb, and there was never a doubt as to whether he would achieve excellence there as he had done at Priory. I have many fond memories of playing around our subdivision court with Marty, Nicole and all of our neighborhood friends. We would often meander around the pond behind the Johnson's house; sometimes skating in the winter, sometimes shooting frogs with bb guns in the summer...Whittington court was alive with all of us kids. It is still a very special place to me. While I have been deeply saddened to learn of Marty's early passing, it was wonderful to learn of how he lived his life. And certainly, there were no surprises there! Intelligent, competent, energetic, witty, shy yet engaging...kind, and a good friend...someone to rely on. Marty lived life to its fullest! My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to his Mom, Dad and Nicole. Close
Condolences from someone who knew Marty long ago  / William Edney (Classmate)  Read >>
Condolences from someone who knew Marty long ago  / William Edney (Classmate)
My name is Bill Edney and I was one of Marty's classmates from the St. Louis Priory School where Marty attended high school. Sadly, I just learned of Marty's passing a few days ago (am writing this on Feb 28, 2008). I know we all lost touch with Marty after graduation - his parents had moved the previous summer and he spent his senior year at Priory living in the basement of my (still) best friend, Rob Nolan. Marty and I were quite different - he was studious and hard-working and I just fooled around a lot :-), but in a graduating class of 53 people you get to know everyone pretty well. In a strange twist of fate, I learned of Marty's passing from another high school friend the same day that the article about the accident onboard the Cougar Ace was published in Wired magazine. I posted an online comment to that article, but I'll reproduce a story I told there here. In senior year, one of our tasks in English class was the endless analysis of English literature classics. When Marty got particularly fed up with analyzing "Beowulf", he decided to write a parody called "Bilewulf" for our next writing project. Our English teacher was furious, but I never laughed so hard in my life. In fact, I still have my autographed copy in a box of high school momentos. I still tell the "Bilewulf" story to friends too and, in fact, had just mentioned it a month or so ago to another friend of mine. 24 years after the fact and it's still getting laughs. I know Marty couldn't wait to get out of Priory and get on with his life and education at Webb. Even so, I'd like to think that he carried a little bit of it with him, as we all do. He certainly achieved being one of the best in his profession. What an outstanding man he turned out to be. My sincere condolences to Marty's family and friends. - Bill Edney Close
Condolences / Ben Seligman   Read >>
Condolences / Ben Seligman
I have only just found out about Marty's passing (2nd November 2007). I was the project engineer for Shell on a complex beach landing operation undertaken by Crowley for us in summer 2004 in Sakhalin, Russia. Jim van der Veen describes this project and Marty's significant contribution to it in his trubute to Marty. It was through Marty's dedication and considerable skills as a naval architect that our pressure vessel was recovered and a major delay to the completion of our plant was averted.

My sincerest (and belated) condolences to his close friends and family. Close
A great classmate, co-worker, and friend  / Steve Pagan (College/coworker)  Read >>
A great classmate, co-worker, and friend  / Steve Pagan (College/coworker)
I first met Marty at Webb, we were classmates.  In late junior and senior year, he was my thesis partner along with a third classmate.

I knew Marty was very smart, but since I was a 'Smurf' (see Dean's comments earlier about Smurfs and Bohemians) we didn't hang around too much at Webb.  But after spending a lot of long hours in the model basin and the computer lab on the thesis, I got to see how gifted he was.  It was a struggle to keep up with him intellectually!  I'm certain that knowing Marty and having to try to keep pace with him on the thesis has helped me in my life from that time onwards.  The lesson I learned is that often times we need to push and challenge ourselves.

In 1991, I was looking to move on from my first job.  I was at a two-person consulting company in South Jersey at the time, so obviously there wasn't too much room to move up there.  I had heard that Marty was working for Maritrans, so I invited him to a party I was having.  That's where he told me that Maritrans was hiring, and I applied for and got a job there.  I imagine (maybe hope!) that he had good words to say about me when my resume was circling the office.

While at Maritrans (we worked together for about 5 years) we worked together on a lot of projects.  There were a few really late nights, and I once again got to see Marty work his magic.  I learned a lot from him.  But I also had to tweak him a bit, sometimes he could get a little too serious.  As I recall he had a girlfriend in Philly who was a French au pair.  The guys at the office had soon nicknamed her 'Fifi', and eventually he even started calling her that when we were around.

One interest we shared was diving.  I recall we did a few dives together in Florida, but one story worth recalling was a dive off NJ.  We were diving with a couple other guys from Maritrans who were a bit more 'cowboy' than we were, but were less experienced.  Well all four of us went down the anchor line together.  Marty and I, as buddies, stuck together.  The other two didn't exactly do that.  One had problems equalizing his ears, but his buddy dropped like a stone to the wreck and quickly went inside.  Any diver will tell you that this is a very bad thing-don't get separated from your buddy, especially if you are penetrating a wreck.  Well Marty's eyes went wide and we both quickly knew what we had to do.  Marty went down to the wreck and kept his eyes on the first guy, I went up a little (keeping in sight of Marty) to find the other guy.  10 minutes later it was all sorted out, but a good portion of our dive was ruined.  Some divers would have been upset or disappointed, but Marty knew that it was far more important to look out for your friends than to enjoy yourself.

To back up a little, in December 1989 I was set to board the chemical tanker Exxon Wilmington in Baton Rouge as part of the Webb winter work program.  I was supposed to board on Christmas eve, but as it turned out the ship was late arriving.  At that time, the Johnsons were living in Baton Rouge, and they took me and my other classmate in for that Christmas, and even had presents for us.  It was very thoughtful of them, it took what otherwise would have been a lonely Christmas and turned it into a really nice day.  The next day the ship arrived, and Marty drove us down to the docks in his father's bright red Mercedes; it was a surreal moment to be driving through a refinery with all the hissing steam in that car!

It was an incredible shock to hear the news about the accident.  That's one of the reasons that it's taken me a while to write this.  All I can say to sum up is that it was a pleasure to know and work with Marty, I learned a lot from, and that he will be missed.

Steve Pagan Close
College Stories  / Dean Schleicher (College Roommate )  Read >>
College Stories  / Dean Schleicher (College Roommate )
Freshman year we had the world’s best college chef. This guy was great and he took a liking to some of us – me, Marty and a senior named Speedo. The chef even got some really nice London broil that he let us cook on a grill. The dinners during freshman year were really good for the most part. During the summer the chef was fired – something about kick-backs from the various suppliers.

Speedo also introduced us to Korean food. Marty and I really liked the Kim-Chi. We liked it so much that we tried to make some. It’s a good thing that we were not as bad at chemistry as we were at making Kim-Chi because that stuff we made was horrible!

We generally ate at the same table in the cafeteria and had stimulating conversation such as:
Dean: “Marty you can’t leave all that food on your plate, don’t you know there are people starving in Ethiopia.”
Marty: “Name two.”

Marty, Pat and I shared a room (a really rather small one) sophomore year at Webb. This arrangement of a triple in a room barely big enough to suit two came about because my freshman roommate, Paul, well… to say he snored a bit would be a vast understatement and I wasn’t going to survive another year with Paul. Marty and Pat took pity on me and we pulled off a triple in a real small room; Paul got a single – for the next three years!

The arrangements in the triple were a little complicated. Marty had the lower bunk, Pat and all of his worldly possessions took the upper bunk and I slept on a convertible couch that I used as a bed at night and we all used as a couch during the day. If you ever visit Webb, the room is on the third deck, courtyard side, near the freshman classroom which used to be on the western side of the building.

It was a strange year because the NY State drinking age was 19 but in November of 1985 it went to 21. We had an incredible collection of beer cans along one wall of that room!

For sophomore year, most of our homework was done in the classroom so the lack of desks in the triple did not matter. I think Marty had a desk in the room; Pat and I worked in the classroom.

We had class and homework to keep us busy and when we got bored, Pat always provided endless hours of entertainment. I think this is when we really expanded the possibilities with his stress-induced narcolepsy. I don’t know if Pat ever got a formal narcolepsy diagnosis – but we budding young naval architects immediately identified it for him. Whenever he was really stressed, he would close his eyes and go to sleep. And once asleep, he was almost impossible to wake up. Marty and I would take the sleeping Pat with us on various outings. Ultimately, the whole class got involved. We moved him around the school – library, reading room, classrooms. The sleeping Pat made it into the Binnacle on our class page – look close at the picture on page 24 of the 1988 Binnacle and you will see a sleeping Pat propped up against the wall. We then got more adventurous – sleeping Pat in the Girl’s Dorm, sleeping Pat in restaurants. Now all this would have gotten boring except we found out the one way to wake Pat up – water. A little splash of water and he would pop awake. Sometimes he would pop awake when he was miles from where he went to sleep. Then we started working on convincing him that we took him even farther than we had, like across state lines. He usually would wake up enough to realize he was in a local restaurant and we would buy him dinner as a reward for the entertainment value. It was all in good fun.

Other good fun that Marty and I had at Pat’s expense was painting his finger and toe nails while he was asleep. We usually used magic marker or highlighter or something else at hand. Sometimes we would draw in facial hair. I think Pat enjoyed the attention a little bit and we never did anything all that bad – juvenile maybe, but not bad.

Poor Pat was not the only victim of our pranks. You have to understand that early in our class history there was the great schism – a large part of the class was identified as “smurfs” and other than being blue, they had all the qualities of smurfs – bright, cheery individuals who probably wanted nothing better than to conform to the current trend in clothes, accessories and hairstyles. The other part of the class was named freshman year during a study of the French Revolution – the Bohemians – dirt bags who did not wear shoes, were not morning people and generally did not want to be bothered. Marty was a Bohemian, along with me and Dave, Manny and the occasional Mike and any smurf who just needed a break. Well, if a papa smurf could be identified it was Stevo who was a particularly cheery morning person, always meticulously groomed and with the latest fashions. The sophomore classrooms had a desk in it with a single drawer that we sat at all day long. Stevo had all his class materials neatly arranged in the drawer and for three months we watched a bright, cheery Stevo walk in every morning, open the drawer, pull out a pad of paper, COLORED pencils, an eraser and a ruler and sit quietly anticipating the start of class.

This was too ripe a target for us. Dave and I don’t recall who had the idea, but I think it took a while to materialize. We needed a cold night. A real cold night, like near freezing. Come November it finally got cold, and I think Marty drove us to the store for supplies: it was probably 8 or 10 packages of Jello, some duct tape and some Saranwrap. Now while this may sound like a fun night on the town, you have to remember it was harmless fun.

We took Stevo’s desk drawer and removed it from the desk. We spirited it down to the kitchen and carefully removed all the items in such a way that we could put it back into the drawer exactly in its proper and assigned location. Next we carefully lined the drawer with the Saranwrap and the duct tape to make sure it would not leak. We got some hot water and started to prepare the Jello. We were in the main kitchen which in those days was always accessible to the students.

You may recall that Webb had its student honor code. Well along with the honor code there was a student council, complete with a “sheriff” of sorts – the honor council chairman. This particular year, the honor council chairman was Joel. Now Joel was a sort of scary individual. You have to realize that his friends and classmates had nominated and he subsequently won the post of honor council chairman. I recall rumors that Joel had been in the Army – like Special Forces of something like that. Anyway, Joel was not someone you wanted to fool around with on any occasion.

So there we were, mixing Jello in a carefully protected Webb-Institute-official-school drawer in the official Webb-Institute-professionally staffed kitchen, snickering to ourselves and gently stirring the Jello while Dave was rounding up a serving cart to transport this mess on, when we detected, shall we say, a presence. We were standing shoulder to shoulder, Marty stirring with his right hand and I with my left when turned toward each other and Joel coalesced out of the darkness between us. We both gasped and held our breath; there was no sound but the stirring of two spoons still stirring the Jello. “Needs fruit” was Joel’s only comment as he carefully examined our handiwork and then departed. Well, we had no choice but to rustle up some bananas, oranges and the like, slice them up and insert them into the Jello-drawer. We also added the various supplies but rather than randomly placing them like the fruit, everything went back into the Jello-drawer in its proper place.

Dave showed up with the cart and it was a good thing. We were learning about a thing called “free surface” and I don’t mind telling you that a 30” long by 24” wide drawer with 3” of non-gelatinous Jello in it is quite a study in free surface. We carefully ushered the drawer outside to allow it to do its Jello-magic.

I think we probably went off to do some homework and maybe have a cheap and frosty beverage before returning the drawer to its place. After all, how long could it take for Jello to do its thing, right?

The sun was inching its smiling face over the horizon when the stupid Jello final got firm enough to move. We slid it into its place and Marty and I staggered off to get a couple hours sleep. Dave decided to just stay up and read Kerouac or maybe it was Nietzche, I forget now.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on campus, things were not going well for the well groomed and pleasant smelling Stevo. Apparently, his girlfriend had some aversion to cold weather relationships and unbeknownst to us had broken up with him the night prior. This unfortunate event had several knock-on effects, one of which was that his homework had not been done. So Stevo was in recovery mode and decided to get up early to color code his notes from class. And this required the pencils from the now infamous Jello-drawer.

So we have a somewhat groggy Stevo who was nonetheless cleanly dressed and impeccably coifed entering a classroom in which a dirty, smelly and still-in-the-clothes-from-the-day-before Dave is reading Machiavelli in the back of the classroom with a pair of the darkest 99 cent sunglasses you have ever seen shading his tired eyes from the now bright morning sun.

Stevo never ventured to try and get the pencils out of the drawer. He never closed the drawer. He pouted in frustration and left the classroom slamming the door behind him. However, after realizing that Dave was in fact in the classroom and looked comfortable enough to have been there for a while, he decided to return with the curt query “Who did it?” To which Dave slowly slid the sunglasses down from his somewhat bloodshot eyes and peering over the glasses straight into Stevo’s clear and shining eyes he provided the reply, “Dean and Marty and me.” He then slid the glasses back up and went back to his book.

We don’t know what Stevo did in the intervening hours between then and class. He disappeared for a little while. The Jello-drawer was famous by the time class started. It was a Professor Ward class; he had been teaching at Webb for quite a while and probably did not even notice the drawer.

Stevo was almost late when he showed up for class. He may as well have been because with his morning routine so disrupted, all he could do was sit at his desk with his arms spread and sigh and pout heavily. Then, from the back row, someone handed him a spoon at which point he smiled and started laughing just a little bit. Professor Ward asked the responsible parties to please clean up so we could carry on with class. So the three of us got the drawer and you know, Jello cleans up real easy when you hit it with hot water. In five minutes, the drawer was restored, we had replaced the items in it and class went on as usual. I have no idea what the lecture was.

We terrorized other folks in the class too as you will see, but at the end of sophomore year we had the worst fright of the four year ordeal.

It was the end of the second semester sophomore year (almost our last math class) and Professor Stephen, or “Brucie” as he was affectionately called had been on an absolute rampage for the last dozen days of class. He had been collecting homework like there was no tomorrow. Not just the previous night’s homework either, he was collecting old stuff, too.

The Professors did have some sense of humanity for us students and in general they understood that if you had a big project due, you might not get to all the homework assigned and you might just choose to skip an assignment for a day or two. The humane act of the Professors was that some did not necessarily collect homework on every day. Brucie was typically one of these. I think his main motivation was that he did not want to have to correct papers every day, but who knows? Anyway, Brucie roulette was a favorite gamble when the workload got heavy. After all, he was not collecting so why bother doing it?

Unfortunately, if you were out of luck you couldn’t play Brucie roulette. It just so happened that I was nearly out of luck second semester sophomore year – I had been failing two classes at mid-semester and was placed on academic probation. Part of this was that I had to turn in all my Brucie homework which meant I had to have it done.

So here we have Brucie on his homework-collecting-rant and the only people that had done the homework were those that were failing. We never saw Brucie’s evil plan coming. We thought he was just messing with those of us who were foundering. Little did we know the extent of his deviousness.

There is a tradition at Webb; it is that there is no curve and on the first day of class the weighting for all course work and grading is provided to everyone. Thus, you always know where you stand in your grades if you are paying attention; those passing all their courses were not paying attention.

There is also the tradition that if you are doing well in a course you may be exempt from the final; the criterion for exemption is also dictated on the first day of class. Exemption was not something that I typically had to worry about, but Marty and several others partook of exemptions from numerous finals. Brucie made sure that his course would not be one of them second semester sophomore year. By collecting a lot of homework assignments that various people had not completed he was casting a wide net and he caught those people typically exempt from finals by driving down their homework grade below that magic number.

I had never seen Marty so upset about school. He was on a mission. Now a lot of people got caught in Brucie’s devious little plan, but Marty took it personally. And he chose to fight back the way he knew how – he studied and studied and studied. He spent all the time he had for his other exemptions studying for the Brucie math final. He was relentless and driven. He had a goal – he wanted to prove a point and he was not going to settle for anything less than a perfect score. He did not study angrily; his anger was gone. It was replaced by focus, and cool-headedness and that eerie Marty-calmness. He studied math long after I had studied for all those other finals I had to take. He studied and studied. And he fought back the best way he could – with a perfect 100% correct on that final.

Even his success was not without trauma. Pat had gone off and done some early morning studying and Marty and I slept through our alarm back in the triple. When our absence from class was noted, dear Professor Stephen himself came and wrapped on the door to the room. What an absolute nightmare that was. Waking up on the day of a final to the nasal New Yorker whine of a dreaded professor telling you to “take your time” and “there’s no rush” as if implying that hurrying isn’t going to help us anyway. It still sends shivers down my spine. Marty and I jumped up and rushed into the class – he got his perfect score and I passed the course.

Junior year came and Pat moved on to another triple with Ian and Ray. Marty and I took a tower room – second deck, soundside, west end of the building towards the balcony. We really liked this room and we kept it for the next two years. The beds were up over the green-uglies (those metal wardrobes we used to have) and a desk was under each bed. The couch was retired to just be a couch, 24-7. We had a coffee table and we installed this huge light fixture over the door facing up at the ceiling. It wasn’t a bad room.

I had learned a thing or two from Marty and I forsook studying in the classroom unless it was necessary for a project. I started using that desk in the room. Our study habits became similar, and I can only hope that while I was picking up Marty’s good habits, he wasn’t picking up any of my bad habits. I don’t think he was, because it was while in the tower room that Marty moved into his position of first in the class. I was steadily improving, but Marty was moving off the charts.

Our studying was good and it was close quarters but we always worked things out separately and discussed problems we were having. I think I may have even helped Marty out on a couple of assignments! We were proud that the Professors were recognizing that the Bohemians were trying to work things out individually despite to cooperative efforts of the smurfs. I will always remember Professor Al Rowen chiding the class for wholly working through a particular problem incorrectly – clearly an indication of an educator’s failure to get his point across in my opinion. But our-pal-Al went on to say that he thought it was interesting that 15 of the class had the same exact wrong answer. Yeah, we had the wrong answer also, but at least it was a different wrong answer from the smurfs and from our other classmates.

I don’t mean to say that Marty was prudish with his intelligence. Quite the contrary, I think he would help anyone out who asked for it but you had to be willing to do the work under Marty’s tutelage; he was not going to give it to you.

Junior year also had the start of a new tradition – Floyd parties. That big light fixture over the door was filled with two red/pink lights and a black light. After working long and hard hours, sometimes we would just throw an impromptu, low key party in the room. We would turn on the lights, put on some Pink Floyd and just hang out for a while. It wasn’t anything wild or crazy; it was just a few moments of camaraderie at the end of some real long days.

Pink Floyd and Roger Waters also played another important role for us. I think Marty and I trained ourselves to go to sleep to the album “The Pros and Cons of Hitch-hiking.” Initially I think we used “Dark side of the Moon” but there are all those alarm clocks at the start of “Time” so we abandoned that album. We had real similar sleep and work habits by this time and when it was time for bed I would pop in a cassette with Pros and Cons on it and we would listen to that until blissful unconsciousness took us off to dreamland. After a while, we just needed to pop that tape in and we’d be asleep in no time. It was a useful thing to have. I still have the cassette.

Marty liked Pink Floyd. I am sure he liked other bands too, but Pink Floyd had some intellectual stimulation for him – I guess he had studied the music in high school or something. He knew an awful lot about the songs and the band. I can remember listening to one song called “One of these days” over and over again. It is largely an instrumental piece but there is a synthesized voice in the middle of it that says something. Back before the internet you had to listen to music rather than just google it to find out the words. It wasn’t until I got the CD a few years after graduation that I was finally able to make out the words in that song. I called Marty that night – “hey yeah,” he said, “I got it last year; those are the words.” I have since learned that the song was directed at a radio host that had given the band a horrible review.

Marty enjoyed road trips. In fact, at one point I recall that he proclaimed himself the lord of I-95. Now, due to the winter work period at Webb, our spring break happened when every other university in America was a few weeks from finals in their peak party period. As a result the “Points West Tour” came into being. The Points West Tour was a road trip that took us from our humble mansion in Glen Cove down I-80 into the western part of Pennsylvania. Dave, being from that part of the planet, had friends attending such big name schools as Indiana University of Pennsylvania or IUP as it is lovingly known, Penn State and the venerable Slippery Rock University. Of course, the Slippery Rock connection was a family one – Doc Rusnak was a professor there and heavily involved in the local volunteer fire department, but still it was a mandatory stop on the tour.

The Points West Tour was a very condensed little road trip. It took place over a weekend. We would come blazing into town on a Friday, drink as much beer as we could, pass out, wake up and move on to the next campus, blaze into town, drink as much beer as we could, pass out – you get the idea. One particular tour was Dave, Marty and me. We took Dave’s Subaru station wagon which probably only had something like 180,000 miles on it at this point. Our first stop was Penn State to visit Dave’s friend Gary who was a forestry major and as near as we could tell spent most of his quality study time by camping in the woods. Next thing we knew the keg was floating and of course, one of us happened to be trying to get a beer at the time. A new keg was brought in and a short time later, when one of us was trying to get a beer that keg was floating. Maybe it’s the Archimedes curse or something, but people began noticing that whenever a keg went dry one of the three of us was near it. They happily waved good-bye to us the next morning.

We invaded IUP next. Our visit to IUP was tenuous at best. Now, for me, personally, I have made sure that whenever I break up with an old girlfriend, I do it right. Although it could be a little hard on the breakables in the area, I don’t have to worry about complications later on. Dave did not have this policy and little did we know that there was some complication with our visit to IUP. Not with Dave’s friend, mind you, more with her current beaux. The current beaux was quite something really. I think he was the sitting president of the International Brotherhood of Steroid using Body Builders of SPIBSUBB. His cabinet, about 10 gorillas in some sort of body building Frat house attire were also at the party. Of course, Dave’s friend being a college co-ed had also invited similarly minded other college co-eds who were looking to be seen with the membership of IBSUBB. Into this environment entered three unsuspecting members of the Webb Institute Massive Party Sailors (WIMPS) who could be easily identified by the cheap dark sunglasses (to protect their eyes from the sun which they hadn’t seen in three months), pale skin and severely under-developed physiques. Unfortunately, a lot of the girls were really happy to see us – not so for the rank and file of IBSUBB.

Marty and I got introduced to this drinking game called “Questions.” The premise of the game is simple: everyone gets a cup of beer; you then can only ask questions. If you make the mistake of answering the question then you have to drink. I was out in like 10 minutes. I had to because I was really bad at this game. Marty was REALLY good at this game. His focus was incredible and he had these drop dead questions that just blew people away. There was also this girl there who was doing a pretty good job keeping up with Marty. The two of them teamed up on SPIBSUBB. It was incredible to watch – Marty would hit him with “Do you do steroids?” and SPIBSUBB would drink then the cute co-ed would hit him with “Do you masturbate?” and SPIBSUBB would drink. It was better than the Cosby Show!

The night wore on. I took someone to get some cigarettes and then dropped them off home when I realized I had no idea where I was. Dave was talking to his old friend and apparently Marty was left with the entire IBSUBB entourage; apparently it got ugly. The next morning, after I found my way back to the apartment and actually got let in and found a place to crash, Marty showed me this rather large whole in the wall and told me that his head had been where the hole was only seconds before. Apparently, IBSUBB didn’t appreciate us being near yet another floating keg. Marty thought it was really funny. But that was Marty – calm, cool and not hesitating to roll out of way to avoid a gorilla on a bender!

Hey let’s go help mom move, again…
I have lost count how many times Marty, Dave and I helped my mother move while we were at Webb. For a while it seemed like every time I went home they came with me and we were packing her up to put her in a different place. My mother considered Marty to be one of her kids; a kid with a really smart mouth, but one she loves nonetheless.

Barry Manilow
I remember one time when my mother dropped me off at Webb. She had her high school friend, Carol, with her to keep her company on the return trip to Connecticut. Now, Mom and Marty had a unique relationship – they were constantly sparring with words. My mom was a high school teacher at the time and pretty tolerant of smart mouthed people; I think she enjoyed the playful taunting. On this particular day in the common room at Webb, Mom and Carol ran into Marty and he said something to the effect of “I am not having a battle of wits with an unarmed person today.” Well, Mom didn’t reply; instead she turned to Carol and said “Don’t you think he looks like Barry Manilow?” And Carol shook her head vigorously in agreement. It was the only time I have ever seen Marty speechless. Then just to rub his nose in it Mom pinched Marty’s cheek and said “Don’t worry sweetie, we think Barry Manilow is very handsome.” I have never seen anyone turn so red with embarrassment!

It speaks well of Marty and the impression that he left with people – Carol learned of Marty’s untimely death and although she had only met him three times or so, she instantly remembered him and sends her condolences.

Ian’s wedding
After Webb, yes, I did graduate in the end; there are pictures to prove it, we were all invited up to Boston for Ian’s wedding. I think Christine and I met him at Mom’s house in Connecticut. Mom and her boyfriend, Paul, had this Ford Astro minivan with these captain’s chairs in it. You could take the passenger seats and spin them around to turn the back of the van into a living room. Mom also had a case of wine that we proceeded to sample while Paul drove us to Boston. It was a nice wedding, I think. The snow started falling while we were in Boston. Mom and Paul drove us back to Connecticut after the wedding and we finished sampling the wine. A bunch of the class of ’88 followed us back to New Britain and we had an impromptu party at Mom’s house and everyone stayed the night to avoid the storm.

Show me the gun
Marty told us the story about how he got robbed when he lived in Brooklyn. He was approached by someone who said, “Give me your wallet, I have a gun.” Marty replied, “Show me the gun.” To which the assailant pulled the gun and pointed it at Marty’s face and Marty replied, “Deal’s a deal” and handed over his wallet; I think he also lost a ring and a watch in that little exchange.

It’s good thing I don’t have a gun…
While Marty was living in Brooklyn I was speaking on the phone with him one night. He liked his apartment there because he could park the Honda Prelude beneath a streetlight that he could see from the kitchen window. While we were on the phone Marty started yelling. Apparently, a kid was winding up with a brick to through it through the car window and Marty was yelling at him from the kitchen window. The kid threw the brick through the window and ran. I asked Marty, “Why don’t you get a gun?” He replied, “No, if I had a gun, the kid would be dead and I would be in jail.” And you know, I think he was right.

The engineer and the assassin…
I remember that Marty had to have a battery of psychological personality tests for one of his jobs. Do you remember the results? The test result said Marty should be an engineer or an assassin because he was cool and calculating.

Changing jobs…
I talked to Marty on the occasion of trying to decide whether to leave my US Navy job after 11 years. I had stayed on for 2 or 3 years too long and a great opportunity had presented itself. I think Marty was on his second or third job by this time – he was changing jobs about every 5 years. We talked for a while and Marty said, “You know my opinion; there’s no reason why you shouldn’t change a job when you are ready; move on already.” There he was again, calm, cool and just calling it liked he saw it. I changed jobs and Marty was right – life is too short to be unsatisfied for 40 hours per week, 2000 hours a year.

Remember Marty’s apartment in Philly. I think it was a loft in an old factory. It was the coolest apartment I have ever seen. Remember “Blanket Man?” He was Marty’s homeless neighbor that we would see whenever we visited. Having been homeless in Philly I kind of felt a connection with Blanket Man.

Life’s little instruction book…
Marty got a little book called “Life’s little instruction book.” Leave it to Marty to go off and read the instructions! It had some sage advice in it; “Never buy a boat” was something that Marty passed on to me. Once again, I didn’t follow the instructions – we generally have about 100 feet of boats hanging around. At least Marty joined the club where he could use a boat.

Homeward bound 94
One of the boats that Christine and I owned was a 1974, 28’ Morgan Out Island that I lived on while I was working in New Orleans. The job had not gone as expected and I ended up spending weeks at a time in New Orleans living in a hotel room. Christine and I decided to buy a boat to be my residence in New Orleans and then sail it home when the job was done. The plan was called “Homeward bound 94.” Dave actually found the boat that we bought. It was a tub but it was a comfortable tub that was very forgiving. All kinds of people were interested in being crew for us on the trip home. In the end, Marty, Dave, Rick and our friend George were the only ones that came through. Marty and Rick came through in a big way; Marty joined us in Pensacola and Rick came on board in Panama City. The sailing instructions were simple, wait for a cold front to blow through and once the rain settles down, jump on the tail end of it and enjoy the sleigh ride down wind to Clearwater. A friend told me not to worry, the wind never blows southeast in the spring.

We had a great sail from Pensacola to Destin. The wind was a little contrary sailing from Destin to Panama City. We were anticipating a daylight arrival (one of our few) but unfortunately had to stand by while the Coast Guard attempted to rescue a boat that was in distress. We had been sailing along in rather lively conditions when a couple of guys in a small outboard powered boat flagged us down. It was all hands on deck while we got the sails down, started the engine and tried to help out but all we could do was stand by while the Coast Guard did its thing. The outboard boat was on the beach by the time the Coast Guard showed up. The night approach into the marina in Panama City was without incident.

Rick joined us in Panama City and we waited for a day while the weather did its thing. We jumped offshore on the tail end of the front and had an absolute blast sailing along the coast and out passed Apalachicola. We were visited by aliens that night – actually it was dolphins totally engulfed in phosphorescence. They played with us for well over an hour. The night was clear and we had some awesome stars to steer by.

The morning brought a wind shift to the southeast! This set up 6-8’ square waves in the middle of the Gulf; what a ride it was. We sailed up and fell off the backs of the waves that came in sets of three. In between were these 3-4’ waves that matched our waterline length and nearly brought us to a complete stop. The second 100 nautical miles took a while to complete. I missed the Casino/Dinner boat that tried to run us over – I was off watch. I brought us into Clearwater on GPS and we tied up and went to sleep. We were up early – we were at the wrong marina! We had to move over to the municipal marina and by now that mean old southeast wind was really cranking. We got it all sorted out and crawled into a tiki bar for some well deserved refreshment. Marty and Rick hung out in Clearwater with us for a couple of days while we recovered from the offshore experience. Marty and Rick left us in Clearwater and we continued our cruise home.

Fair winds and following seas…
After eleven years with the Navy, ten of those with Naval Special Warfare, I noticed some poignant items on the bulletin board. One item I remember is this: a good friend will bail you out of jail; a really good friend will be sitting there with you saying “boy we really screwed up this time!” Marty was a really good friend and he will be missed. Close
A Tribute to Marty  / Jim Van Der Veen (Co-worker)  Read >>
A Tribute to Marty  / Jim Van Der Veen (Co-worker)
It was my privlege to be able to work with Marty after he came to work at Crowley Marine Services. Marty had the knack of being able to immediately determine the root of a problem and then come up with solutions that were practical and realistic. If a proposal was out of line, you knew it right away and didn't have to waste any more time on it. Even though Marty was one of the smartest persons I have ever met, he was able to explain complex solutions and theories in terms even us non-Naval Architects could understand.

In 2004 Marty was "drafted" into service at Lunskoye, a beach location on the East Coast of Sakhalin Island (Russia) - about as remote a place as you would want to work. We were working on a project to move the components for an LNG plant ashore from our barges using specialized transport equipment supplied by a contractor. A heavy pressure vessel, over 80 feet long and weighing about 250 tons, rolled off of a transporter and wedged itself between two of our barges. If the pressure vessel had fallen into the ocean it would have delayed a multi billion dollar project and had a disasterous effect on Crowley's reputation. Marty first worked out a plan to secure the pressure vessel in place on one of the barges to make sure it did not roll into the sea. He then did the calcualtions to ensure both barges were strong enough to support crawler cranes to lift the pressure vessel, along with what was needed to strengthen the internals of the two barges (using left over pieces of steel). The last step was to prepare a detailed lifting plan for our (obviously) nervous customer, which they accepted. The lift was made, the pressure veseel delivered to the site and our customer's confidence in Crowley restored.

All of this was done in a most professional manner, yet with a wry sense of humor that helped relive the pressure we were all feeling.

Marty was well respected by all of our customers and the other Naval Architects in the Seattle maritime community. I am at a loss to put into words the impact of his death. I can only offer my condolences and prayers to his family.

Jim Van der Veen Close
Marty's Impact on Me  / Christine Schleicher (Friend)  Read >>
Marty's Impact on Me  / Christine Schleicher (Friend)
It has been nearly a month since Marty died. I have been searching for the words to try to sum up Marty’s impact on my life and have come up empty - until now. In the weeks since Marty’s death, the smallest, most trivial things remind me of Marty. I hear the music we listened to at school and it instantly draws a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. I did not realize how often Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and the Talking Heads are played on the radio….  I go down to the coast for a run and stumble upon a Crowley ship docked at a pier. I get home from a trip and find out Seattle’s Best Coffee is now the coffee shop in my local bookstore. I go with my husband and children for a weekend sailing trip on our boat, and flash back to sailing with Marty in our previous sailboat across the Gulf of Mexico. In endless other situations, something triggers a memory of Marty’s fantastic wit and snappy one-liners. In all that, Marty’s impact becomes clear. His friendship and memories of time spent together are so much a part of my everyday life that I almost cannot overstate his impact. The beautiful thing about this fact is the realization that will never change, even with Marty’s death. He will always be part of what makes me smile, what makes me strive to do my best, and especially, what reminds me to make the most of every single minute we have. God bless you Marty. Rest in peace. Love, Chris Close
Very High Price  / Juan Carlos Escudero (None)  Read >>
Very High Price  / Juan Carlos Escudero (None)
I am mariner master from Argentina. I had follow the rescue of M/V Cougar Ace by internet and I think that the price paid for the salvaje with the loss of this man was very high. I sent my condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of the man who was fatally injured. I vote for change the name of the vessel to M/V Marty Johnson. Close
Deeply Missed  / Paul Nave (Co Worker )  Read >>
Deeply Missed  / Paul Nave (Co Worker )
I worked with Marty over the past several years while he was with Crowley.  His knowledge of naval architecture was not only impressive, it was invaluable to all of us who worked in the field on all types of projects such as the one that finally claimed Marty.
But that was just one part of him.  He was also a thoughtful, generous person who took the time to insure you understood what he was explaining to you.  Having read some of the other comments and tributes, you can see he came across as a caring, understanding, knowledgeable person who had a zest for sharing his knowledge with others, and also was a very loving, caring family man as well.  It is obvious that he had a very fulfilling life and he enjoyed everything he did, whether it was work or pleasure.
I take comfort in knowing he is now in God's hands and most likely is desiging the ultimate most seaworth vessel for endless days of happy sailing in heaven.
Rest in Peace Marty. Close
Three Stories about Marty  / Richard Murphy (Brother in Law )  Read >>
Three Stories about Marty  / Richard Murphy (Brother in Law )
When my son William was about 18 months old he started ricocheting around our New York apartment like a young comet on an irregular orbit. We asked Marty to help us baby proof the place, and he promptly flew in from Seattle. He bought us a Black & Decker drill and pitched right in, installing window guards and stair gates up and down the house.

The gate at the bottom of the staircase leading up to our bedroom posed an engineering challenge, in that one side had to be screwed into soft sheetrock with no stud behind it. Marty measured the site along multiple axes and then sat down on the stairs and scribbled furiously in his notebook for several minutes. He filled two pages with equations describing the force that a gate of X weight and Y dimensions would exert on the wall when swung by an adult or shaken by a sugared-up toddler. Marty's solution was to diffuse the stress on the sheetrock by attaching the gate to a long piece of wood that was itself anchored into the wall at six points. One year later that gate stands like the rock of Gibraltar, despite William’s best efforts.

Last spring I flew out to Seattle on business. It was a clear, breezy Saturday in March, and when I called Marty from the airport he suggested that we go out sailing in Puget Sound. I checked in at the W Hotel in downtown Seattle, dumped my bags in my room, and went down to the lobby to wait for Marty. At the appointed hour my cellphone rang: I looked outside and saw Marty sitting at the wheel of his black BMW convertible. (That car was one of Marty's few extravagances. He pampered it like a mistress.) The top was down and he was wearing his Crowley Maritime baseball cap and sunglasses. I folded my six feet, five inches into the passenger seat and we motored off to Marty’s sailing club in Ballard.

There we met Marty’s cousin Keith and Keith’s wife Sarah. Seeing that he had an inexperienced crew, Marty issued us all with life jackets and sailing gloves and then sat us down in the cockpit of the 25-foot daysailer for an orientation. Characteristically, he didn’t simply show us how to raise and trim the sails. Instead he explained how a properly positioned sail functions as an airfoil, creating lift and propulsion when struck by the wind. He went on to define reefing, tacking and jibing, port, starboard, the points of sail and numerous other nautical arcanae. We left the dock some 20 minutes later, after Marty had satisfied himself that we understood not just the mechanics but the basic physics of sailing. And while I don’t remember everything that he told us, I recall that it all made perfect sense at the time.

If you didn’t know Marty, this story might give you the impression that he was a pedant or an egotist, or both. In fact he was a born teacher who had mastered a vast body of knowledge across many disciplines: naval architecture, sailing, physics, opera, literature and much more. I once referred casually to The Lord of the Rings in conversation with Marty, who promptly delivered a detailed lecture on the early history and mythology of Middle Earth as elaborated in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion. He wasn’t showing off: he just happened to know Tolkien backwards and forwards, just as he knew hull design and particle physics. In matters of the intellect Marty was like a young man in love who just can’t help telling everybody about his new girlfriend.

I last saw Marty at my daughter Juliette’s christening in New York. On that occasion Marty did not expound on the pre-Christian antecedents of the baptismal rite. Nor did he delve into the physics involved in cantilevering a 15-pound infant over a font. That’s because he was too busy smiling at his niece. Marty loved his family, and we loved him right back. May he rest in peace. Close
A Brilliant and Humble Man  / Marc Aikin (Co-Worker)  Read >>
A Brilliant and Humble Man  / Marc Aikin (Co-Worker)
Marty and I were roommates for 5 weeks in Lenskoya Russia. During that time Marty and I had the chance to get to know one another. Besides being an ace ping pong player (he whipped me soundly many times) I found Marty to be a humorous and humble man.

Never one to boast or brag but one to point out his position and stand fast. Marty continually impressed me personally and professionally with his gentle manner and tutelage. I always came away feeling as if I had learned something.

Marty will be missed by all and we are all a bit better for his presence.

We're glad we shared the time we did with Marty...  / Craig And Vivian Maturi (SU Graduate Classmates )  Read >>
We're glad we shared the time we did with Marty...  / Craig And Vivian Maturi (SU Graduate Classmates )
We both attended Seattle University with Marty and enjoyed his wit. We were also mentored by Marty in Albers Business School's Annual Business Plan Competition in 2004, the same competition he was the grand prize winner of two years earlier. Our short time with Marty will be cherished, he was generous in sharing his knowledge and experiences and he will be missed. We share in your family's grief and hold you in our prayers. Close
Co-worker and friend  / Deanne Dillenbeck (Co-worker/friend)  Read >>
Co-worker and friend  / Deanne Dillenbeck (Co-worker/friend)

Marty and worked together and I have already conveyed my condolences to the family.  While I am not particularly religious, long ago I found a poem in a newspaper and it seems appropros to share part of it as Marty touched all our hearts.

God looked around his garden and found an empty place.  

He then looked down upon the earth and saw your face.  
He put his arms around you and lifted you to rest.  

God's garden must be beautiful; he only takes the best.

It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn't go alone for part of us went with you the day God called you home.

Though the smiles are gone forever and your hands we cannot touch, we will always have sweet memories of the one we love so much.   

Sadly missed by your family and many friends.

Your friend Deanne

These are my comments from the ceremony in Seattle:  / Dean Schleicher (College Roommate )  Read >>
These are my comments from the ceremony in Seattle:  / Dean Schleicher (College Roommate )
I have here two sets of comments: a brief outline for a short sharing and ten pages of typed reminisces. I have decided to leave the typed pages with the Johnson family and focus on my brief outline.

My name is Dean Schleicher and I was Marty’s roommate at Webb for three years and we hung out a lot our first year at Webb. Firstly, I would like to offer the condolences of the class of 1988. We have been able to contact everyone and condolences are being sent from far and wide. There are classmates in Korea, San Diego, Wisconsin, New York, DC, Virginia and soon to be in Dubai and everyone has been greatly saddened by this event.

Secondly I would like to tell a small story about the boat that Christine and I own – rather the bank owns it and is gracious enough to let us use it. We named it SOMEDAY with an “M” as in Mike (over the radio a lot of people think it is Sunday like the driver). We named the boat SOMEDAY as a reminder not to procrastinate. Unfortunately, Marty has reinforced that lesson and I deeply regret that we have not made the trip to Seattle to visit him as we had been planning to do for years. It is a hard lesson to relearn.

Lastly, I worked for the Navy for eleven years and ten of those years were for Naval Special Warfare. Being Marty’s roommate was good basic training for dealing with Navy SEALs. I think Marty would have gotten along really well with a lot of them; they share an ability to really focus. At the command where I worked there was a bulletin board that generally had some interesting tid-bits on it. One of these is very pertinent to today: it said, “a good friend will bail you out of jail, but a real good friend will be sitting next to you in the cell saying ‘boy did we really screw up this time.’” Marty was a real good friend and he will be missed. Close
Fair winds and following seas from your old college roommate  / Dean Schleicher (College Roommate )  Read >>
Fair winds and following seas from your old college roommate  / Dean Schleicher (College Roommate )
Unfortunately my command of the English language is completely inadequate with regard to expressing the depth of sympathy and sorrow that I feel at the news of Marty’s death. Many have stated in emails and at the services that they didn’t really “know” Marty.

What does it take to “know” someone? Do you need to know what they eat for breakfast every morning? Do you need to know what radio station they listen to on the way to work? Do you need to know their innermost dreams and desires?

Or is it simply a shared history or shared interests that allow us to know someone?

Without implying that Marty was a shallow or uncomplicated individual, I would just like to say that if you ever met Marty, I think you knew Marty. You may not have known what he ate for breakfast or listened to on the radio or what his dreams and aspirations were, but if you spent any time with him at all, you know Marty. You know his easy smile and his innate intelligence, his integrity and passion for knowledge, his professionalism and his love for his family.

Marty was what I have heard called a “stand-up” guy, a “straight-shooter.” He was true to himself, knew what he wanted and was willing to go after it. If you met Marty, you knew Marty. And if you were fortunate enough to call Marty a friend then you were fortunate enough to have a true friend in Marty.

Rest in peace, my friend,
Dean Close
He touched our hearts  / Tracie Chesworth (friend)  Read >>
He touched our hearts  / Tracie Chesworth (friend)

My dear Fontain.....I called him by his first name because I loved it so.  My husband and I worked with Marty at Maritrans in the early 90's.  I haven't seen him in years but this news has struck me hard.  He was just a special person and he was so young then but so smart, I always knew he'd go far.  We used to love to tell stories.  To this day, whenever I hear of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, I always think of him.  He is truly gone too soon. Tracie - Chesapeake, VA

Marty made the world a very small place  / Russ Lynas (Wishing I knew Him )  Read >>
Marty made the world a very small place  / Russ Lynas (Wishing I knew Him )
The events of the Cougar Ace caught my attention on that fatefull Sunday when she rolled.  I began correcting everthing I could find on the events with great interest.  I knew nothing of Martime Salvage operations.  I knew nothing of the shiping industry.  Marty Johnson changed all that.  I shared the events of the Cougar Ace with people at work.  I told everyone there is way more to this event than just a ship on its side.  This is an increible human drama unfolding before our eyes.  Then we lost Marty Johnson.  I am a million miles away from where the ship was on that tragic day and his passing affected me greatly.  At that time I learn of his passing  I wish the ship would just sink but I then began to learn about what he did and what salvage operations are about.  There about "saving" and "protecting".  The Cougar Ace sinking would be an enviromental hazard and a loss to those that feed their families.  Marty I believe was in an effort to save her. To return her upright and back into the hands that depend on her purpose.  I hope the owners of Couger Ace repaint her with Marty's favorite colors and remanin the ship after him if she ever sails again.  In a world full of terror, unrest, and hate, there are those that are fighting to protect and promote freedom.  What Marty was doing matter greatly and Marty's life just made a difference.  The world became a very small place.  I will always remember this man I never met.  There is a line in a song by Mason Jennings that says "the Sun comes up and we start again". To the family and friends of Marty Johnson, I grief your loss also.
A Note From Marty's Mom  / Sheila Johnson (Mother)  Read >>
A Note From Marty's Mom  / Sheila Johnson (Mother)
FONTAIN MARTIN JOHNSON lll was a wonderful SON and a fantastic man. 

He loved his “ Little Sister” Nicole and protected her from the day she was born. He was so happy when she found “the love of her life”, Richard Murphy, and he knew she was in good hands from that day forward. Their two precious children, William and Juliette Fontain, brought many smiles to his face and he never missed a chance to travel to New York City to enjoy them.

Marty not only shared his father’s name, but also his profession as a Naval Architect/Marine Engineer. One day Bud whispered to me that Marty was a better Architect than he was! His Dad is a hard act to follow, so Marty was exceptional in his field. They enjoyed golf (neither very good) and sailing at which they both excelled. They had a lot of fun and never ran out of conversation when together. 

Marty was a delight to raise and to be around. As analytical and brilliant as he was, he had a great sense of humor, a fabulous grin and a swagger in his walk! His quiet confidence and humility were ever present. He was a Fabulous Son!

He never wrote us a letter or said farewell after a visit that he didn’t say “ I love you Mom and Dad”. We will miss his Sunday calls to check on us and chat for an hour or so.

He had River in his blood and he loved the Sea. On Sunday, July 30, 2006 his spirit and his soul “hovered” above the North Pacific Ocean. It is only fitting that we return his remains to the Sea to join him forever more.

We will get through this and life will go on. That is how it is meant to be.

Thank you once again.

MARTY, his death is such a shock.  He was one of the finest young men we have ever had the privilege of knowing.  He was a son any parent would be extremely proud of, so kind and considerate of others.   He will be missed by all who knew him and is a loss to society and the world.  

We express our deepest sympathy to the Johnson family for your loss.  We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  Cherish your memories and be thankful you had him for as long as you did.    Our love to you all.... Close
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