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Philip Nevin Martin

November 22, 1953 March 3, 2019
Philip  Nevin Martin
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Obituary for Philip Nevin Martin

Philip Nevin Martin

Phil passed away on March 3, 2019 at age 65. Phil traveled his cancer journey for almost two years and died after a very brief stay in hospice. He was born November 22, 1953 to Carl and Nancy (Clements) Martin.

Prior to his calling to book publishing, Phil worked in folk arts programming, education, research, and publishing. He was an important part of the Folklore Village (Ridgeway, Wis.) community for decades, serving as staff some of that time. He documented and published recordings of the music of many ethnic groups in Wisconsin and he was co-founder of the Wisconsin Folk Museum (Mount Horeb, Wis.).
Later in his career he focused on his passion for indie book publishing, editing, and writing. He founded the nonprofit book publishing house Midwest Traditions and later his own company Great Lakes Literary where he skillfully and gently edited and guided emerging book writers.
He authored several books: Farmhouse Fiddlers, Rosemaling in the Upper Midwest, A Guide to Fantasy Literature, How to Write Your Best Story. And he editing the anthologies The Writer’s Guide to Fantasy Literature, The New Writer’s Handbook, My Midwest. He had begun writing a book on neighboring.
Phil also enjoyed working at the nonprofit organizations Rethinking Schools, Alzheimer’s Association, and Sienna Retreat Center as well as Kalmbach Publishing and Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Phil volunteered at his church First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, focusing on communications and marketing. He also volunteered in a wide range of ways at Folklore Village years ago, from serving on the board to being a lead member of the landscaping committee.
Phil was passionate about playing soccer and loved cross-country skiing deep in the woods. He was a great and adventurous cook and generous host. He enjoyed hiking and camping, especially along Lake Superior and in the Rockies. He was a wonderfully intuitive traditional Scandinavian fiddler and was Jean’s favorite dance partner for any Scan dance or Wisconsin polka.
Phil celebrated and created beauty and love in this world. He had a reverence for the natural world and was awed by the kindness of humanity. He was gentle and warm, a deep wholistic thinker who aimed for excellence and integrity in all his relationships with people and his work.

Loved ones he leaves to remember him fondly include:
His wife of 32 years Jean Johnson, sister Cheryl (Martin) Michie (Adam Michie), mother-in-law Mary Ann Johnson, brother-in-law Chris Johnson (Julie Raye), sister-in-law Betsy Johnson (Brett Mueller), sister-in-law Natsumi Soeta, nephews and nieces Lauren and Tyler Johnson, Jeremiah, Jessica (France), and Joshua Rector, Aoi Soeta, as well as other relatives and a host of friends and colleagues.
Phil was predeceased by his parents Carl and Nancy Martin and brother Roger Martin.

A memorial service celebrating Phil’s life will be held at First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee on Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. followed by a reception. 1342 N. Astor Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Brief stories, anecdotes or memories of Phil may be sent to Rev. Dena McPhetres by March 20 for the Collage of Voices at for possible inclusion in the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted for First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee and Voces de la Frontera.

Upcoming Events

Celebration of Life




2:00 PM 3/23/2019 2:00:00 PM
First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

1342 N. Astor Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee
1342 N. Astor Street Milwaukee 53202 Wisconsin
United States

Memorial Contribution

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

1342 N. Astor Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

Voces de la Frontera


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