Jüri Martinson, 83, of Storrs, died Dec 26, 2019. He was born July 12,
1936 in Tallinn, Estonia to Märt Martinson and Mari Koiva of Viljandi,
the district that his father represented in the Estonian Parliament.
With 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
younger children to Germany. They were able to reach the United
States in May 1949 and settled in Willimantic. He was attending UCONN
when his mother died and he was sustained by the Estonian community,
working summers as a masonry helper 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 a
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, 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
Sona.” He lived a full life despite having chronic lymphocytic
leukemia for 18 years, with non-complaining fortitude. The duality of
his patriotism was profound and he was always grateful for the refuge
and opportunities that America had given him and his homeland.
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 son 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. 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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