Martha Stutzman passed away peacefully at the age of 97 on this beautiful summer day of August 12, 2019.
She was predeceased by her beloved husband John Henry Stutzman on August 6th 2009. Martha was born in Vallejo in 1921 to Claud M Ellis and Bessie Wolf Ellis. Her relatives were pioneers settling in Vallejo as early as 1886. She had fond memories growing up in Vallejo and enjoyed visiting her father’s, Ellis Dairy and Creamery, which was located near the school and frequented by her friends where they enjoyed delicious milk shakes after school. One of her very exciting days was a trip piloted by her Dad in his BiPlane at age 8. (Her mom found out after the flight) oops! This may have incited a degree of exploration, travel and adventure, which would follow her throughout her life.
Perhaps her most favorite memory of growing up in Vallejo was meeting our father in the high school marching band, where she played the piccolo and our father played the clarinet and tenor sax. They had a lifelong appreciation of music and enjoyed singing in the church choir under the direction of Norman Skeels and Travis Rogers. Support for the Napa Valley Symphony and Chamber Music of Napa was important to them as they promoted and helped to sell season tickets. They also enjoyed attending Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco for a series of classical concerts, which became for them a way to experience the music, which plays an enriching part in all of our lives.
On June 29th 1941, our parents married at Vallejo First Baptist Church and remained married for 68 years. In 1950 they moved to Napa and built their first Photography Studio which they operated alone for the first couple of years. Martha did bookkeeping, printing, photography, and managed the business. On many weekends during the summer, they would photograph weddings. They enjoyed working and being a part of many celebrations of joy. The Photography Center specialized in portrait, wedding, baby, commercial, aerial and landscape photography. They were proud to have the first one-hour color processor in Napa. All of their children worked in their business and Joan Wayne continued until they sold the business in 1998.
They designed and had their home built in 1960 on a foothill in west Napa with views to the east of Napa. Our family enjoyed hosting summer gatherings around the pool. The family’s main sport was boating and waterskiing. On Wednesdays during the summer, we took a day off and headed up to Lake Berryessa for a day of skiing, swimming, and picnicking. Waterski days always included my mom’s famous potato salad and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. We learned to ski from a young age, this included friends, cousins, and anyone else willing to give it a try. We spent a week or two in the summer at Trinity, Shasta, Donner or Sly Park with friends and family for a memorable camping and skiing vacation.
Our mom was a member of the Eastern Star Gateway Chapter #3 for 79 years. Our parents were also members of the Napa Biographical and Genealogical Societies.
From a young age Martha was raised in a loving home that believed faith in God is important and that our lives should be a reflection of his love and glory. The American Baptist Missionaries serve in over 20 countries showing love to millions by providing, healthcare, food and education to some of the most under served parts of the world. This opportunity to give to missions and the mandate to go into all of the world to share God’s love was promoted by our mom on a local, as well as a regional level.
Martha was predeceased by her brother Robert William Ellis in 1926 and her sister Edna Claudine Ellis in 2003. She is survived by her sister Helen Ellis Freeland of Loomis and Dr. Harlan Ellis of Visalia. Also her 2 sons Jack and Dave Stutzman and her 3 daughters and son’s in law, Joan and Bill Wayne, Laura and Doug Smith, Jean and Steve Hebenstreit, 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.
Martha was deeply loved and will be dearly missed by all of her family and friends. The family wishes to express their appreciation of care from Dr. Heather Paciotti from Kaiser, Nancy Trego PA Kaiser, Kaiser Hospice, The Meadows staff of dedicated, hard working, and caring nurses and all auxiliary care givers. Memorial gifts in Martha’s honor may be made to Missions c/o Crosswalk Church of Napa 2590 First Street, Napa, CA 94558. A service to celebrate her life will be held here at Crosswalk Church on Saturday, September 28th, 2019 at 11:00 am.