January 12, 1931 – June 5, 2021
With deep sadness, we announce the passing of Neill Martin in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 5, 2021, at the age of 90. He will always be loved and remembered in the hearts of his loving wife, Gretchen, sons Chris (Michelle) and Greg (Alexis), daughter Michelle (John), and his 4 grandchildren, Tiffany, Nicholas, Benjamin and Alexandra.
Neill was born in San Francisco in 1931 and spent his youth in southern California in Laguna Beach. While growing up, he spent countless hours diving, fishing and boating in the ocean and had a great love of sports which he continued throughout his life. Neill graduated from Chaffey High School in Ontario, California in 1948, and attended Chaffey Junior College from 1949 – 1950. In 1951, he moved to Venice Beach, California and attended UCLA where he was a walk-on with the UCLA basketball team, under legendary coach John Wooden, who was an early mentor to him.
In 1952, Neill was drafted by the US Armed Forces to fight in the Korean War. He is proud of his service and was a true patriot throughout his life. After his tour of duty, he resumed his college studies at UCLA before transferring to University of California at Riverside (“UCR”). In 1957, he graduated with a geology degree from UCR, and then commenced working for American Cement Company. While working at American Cement, Neill also obtained his Master’s degree in Geophysics from UCR.
Neill met his future wife Gretchen (a school teacher) in Riverside. They married in 1962 and had their first two children, Chris and Michelle, while in Riverside. In 1968, American Cement transferred Neill and the family to Palma de Mallorca in Spain where they lived for two years. In 1970, Neill began work for a new company in Caracas, Venezuela, where the family lived for three years. In Venezuela, Neill and family were frequently on the ocean, enjoying fishing, diving and boating. In 1972, the family’s third child (Greg) was born in Caracas.
In 1973, Neill took advantage of a job opportunity in Calgary, Canada. Since then, Neill and Gretchen have resided in Calgary on a full or part-time basis. Neill has worked in several industries in Calgary, including the oil patch, where he was a business consultant and an owner of a reservoir engineering company. He was a trail blazer as the first graduate of the MBA program at the University of Calgary (“U of C”), and later became an adjunct marketing professor at the U of C. As part of his business career, Neill was a director of Antrim Energy and the Canadian Sport Association, where he provided valuable guidance.
In Calgary, Neill continued his love of the outdoors taking the family on numerous camping, hiking, boating and fishing trips in Alberta and British Columbia. He also went on annual salmon and halibut fishing trips for 35 years to coastal British Columbia that became hallowed ground for Neill and the numerous people who accompanied him. Neill loved taking the family on trips all over the US and Western Canada, including annual trips to Mexico which provided the family numerous special memories and invaluable experiences.
In 1999, Neill and Gretchen bought a house in the Goodyear area of Phoenix, Arizona. They continue to have a residence in Goodyear today, splitting time between Calgary and Goodyear as “snowbirds”. Neill’s love of politics and global affairs made him an intricate part of the Pebble Creek “Great Decisions” group in their Goodyear community.
Led by his innate curiosity, Neill was an avid traveler and explorer, as he and Gretchen travelled all over the globe and enjoyed learning about cultures across every continent and all walks of life. In particular, Neill was an accomplished scuba diver and underwater photographer and did numerous presentations for the Calgary Dive Club. He was a captivating story-teller and an incredibly interesting man.
Neill lived his life for his family. Married for nearly 59 years, Gretchen was the love of his life, best friend, and constant travelling companion. He deeply loved his children and grandchildren and loved attending their sporting events, special activities and sharing his passions and stories with them. Neill was a mentor to his kids, grandkids, students and friends and positively impacted the many people he came into contact with. He will never be forgotten and his spirit lives on …
A Celebration of Neill’s life will be held at a later date when we can all gather together safely.
We encourage friends to request an invitation to his memorial site at Neill-Martin.Forevermissed.com and to post tributes and memories.