Dowell Martz, one of Angwin's best, died early this year from complications due to Parkinsons disease.. The old-timers would remember how well he served this community.
Martz was born in 1923 in Glendale, MO, one of three children of Amanda and Pearl Martz. He grew up during the Depression and joined the Army in 1942, spending most of his service years at the 142nd General Hospital in Calcutta, India. After the war, Martz was graduated from Union College in Lincoln, NE, earned an MA from Vanderbilt University in 1953, and a PhD in health physics from Colorado State University in 1968.
Martz was an achiever in three professions; as a scientist, college professor, and elected public official.
As a scientist, among other achievements, he designed infrared photometers used for astronomy research at Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories. His group at Caltech published the first northern hemisphere infrared sky survey.
As a physics teacher for 25 years at Pacific Union College, he guided hundreds of students through the complexities of matter and energy.
As a Napa County supervisor for eight years (1974-1982), he contributed wisdom to the numerous services the county provides its citizens. During his tenure, he helped foster respect for the unique Napa County natural environment and for new policies limiting growth and preserving agricultural lands.
After retiring from teaching, Martz returned to research in health physics. He is survived by his wife Mabel, four children Merrie, Marjorie, Marcum and Martin, and six grandchildren.
Some Personal Notes
I became best acquainted with Martz in his service as a County supervisor. He came into public notice as an opponent of a 960-housing unit in Pope Valley. Today, planners would laugh at the very idea of a project that size in that place. But Dowell's opposition was a bold conservation idea in the early l970's.
Napa County was beginning to forge a reputation as a pioneer in slow growth, and Volker Eisele thought that Martz would bring strength to that movement. He and I visited Dowell, and Volker twisted his arm to run for supervisor for District 3. I became his campaign manager.
Si and June Foote, founders of the Land Trust of Napa County, held the one and only fund-raiser for Martz. The total, $4,000, was a far cry from the $100,000 a campaign costs today.
Dowell was not a back-slapping politician. He did not engage in oratory, but he did his homework and then voted on the facts. He was respected as a man of dependable honesty.
Dowell and I had never discussed the Civil War because he was from Missouri and I from Wisconsin. Doing some research about his grandfather years later, however, Dowell discovered that my grandfather (in the l6th Wisconsin Regiment) and his grandfather( in the Missouri l8th) had fought side by side at the Battle of Shiloh. They had shared a life and death experience 140 years earlier. A neat coincidence story.
Dowell's legacy is in the now popular land use policies which have kept Napa County beautiful, and in his four children who are all engaged in service professions.