The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 29, 2013

Henry Paul Martens

Published 9-29-13

Enid News and Eagle

FAIRVIEW, OK — Henry Paul Martens was born to P.A. and Maria Karber Martens on a farm south of Fairview, Okla., on Nov. 29, 1924, and passed away at the age of 88 on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at home in Fairview.  Henry attended South Mennonite Brethren Church in his early years, and accepted Christ as his Savior as a young boy.

He attended the Green Valley School for eight years and graduated from the Mennonite Brethren Bible School, located south of Fairview, in 1943.

Starting in 1944, Henry served in Civilian Public Service in North Fork, Calif., and Colorado Springs, Colo. He served with the forestry service in maintaining the forest to prevent and also fight forest fires. He made many life long friends during this period of time.

After Civilian Public Service, Henry returned to Fairview, where he was a dirt contractor, working with his older brother Ben, building farm ponds and clearing land.

On Oct. 14, 1949, he married Elda Wiebe Martens in Corn, Okla. After the wedding, they started their life on the family farm south of Fairview.

Henry was well known for his house moving abilities. His father, P.A. Martens, had moved houses with steam traction engines. Henry, with his brother David, formed Martens Brothers House Moving. They moved houses together for 25 years. His son John and grandson Levi continue in the business.

In 1974, Henry opened Martens Machine Shop. The machine shop developed from a small business next to the family residence to the large machine shop of today. His son Paul continues the business. Henry was active in the machine shop until the age of 85.

Henry, with his brother David, had an interest in steam traction engines and in 1954, began to collect them together. Their father had used the engines to move houses and thresh, so the boys were exposed to the machines at an early age. Henry was a founding member of the Oklahoma Steam Threshers Association, as well as a charter member of the Major County Historical Society. Henry was one of the early licensed pilots in Fairview, a charter member of the Fairview Flight Club, and a participant in the formation of the first Fairview Free Fly-in in 1952. Henry and Elda were active members of the Oklahoma and International Flying Farmers organization.

Henry and Elda were both involved in the work of Mennonite Central Committee, working with the Oklahoma Mennonite Relief Sale, as well as hosting exchange trainees from Europe and Central America. These young people lived with the family and worked with Henry in his businesses. This provided Henry and Elda with opportunities to travel the world visiting their extended families. They traveled to Europe many times to visit family and friends, as well as Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo to visit Joyce, who was living and working there. They also traveled throughout the United States and Canada, presenting quilt programs to church and civic groups.

Henry is survived by his sons, John and wife Linda Martens, and Paul and wife Lori Martens of Fairview; daughter, Joyce Martens of Fairview; sister, Eva Neufeld of Fairview; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Henry was proceeded in death by his wife, Elda Wiebe Martens; parents, P.A. and Maria Karber Martens; son, Matthew Reed Martens; and four brothers and one sister.

A memorial service will be 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in the north cemetery of Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church. Arrangements by Pierce Funeral home, Fairview.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Mennonite Central Committee, through the Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church, 1600 E. State Road, Fairview, OK 73737.

Condolences online at

(Submitted by family)