by Victoria Shea (Plain Press, February 2017) It was like a scene from a movie: the landlord’s son falls in love with the tenant’s daughter. But for Pauline Martens, that was the start of her marriage to the late Walter Martens, Sr., the founder of the Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home on Denison Avenue.
It was also the start of the legacy that Pauline left behind when she passed away on January 12th at Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake. She was 100.
“Mom died with her sons at her bedside,” said her oldest son, Walter Jr., when asked about his mother’s passing. “It was peaceful. One minute she was there, the next she was gone.”
Pauline was born on December 16, 1916 on Columbus Road in Cleveland. She was the daughter of John Gyuru and Pauline Budjinsky Gyuru, both immigrants from Hungry. She also had a younger sister, Dorothy, who passed away at the age of four from double pneumonia.
“Mom never forgot her,” Walter said. “One of her favorite stories was about dressing their cat as a baby and wheeling her about the neighborhood.”
Like her husband, Pauline lived nearly her whole life on the West Side of Cleveland, and it was in the early 1930s that Pauline and her parents would rent the upstairs of 2210 West Blvd that was owned by her future in-laws, Rose Biebrlhausen Martens and Edward Martens. She would meet and eventually date their oldest son Walter, who she would marry on Tuesday, June 23, 1936 at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church.
After her marriage, Pauline began waitressing at Martens Café on Lorain Avenue and West 100th Street, where family legend has it that she was arrested for running bingo on a night when Walter, Sr. stayed home because of a cold.
In October of 1948, Pauline would be at her husband’s side when he opened the Martens Funeral Home at 9811 Denison Avenue, where she would serve at secretary until her retirement in the late 1970s. Her sons remember her as their father’s most loyal helper and supporter.
The Martens were also known for their trips and vacations they took over most of the country. They enjoyed New York and Chicago night clubs and stage shows in Las Vegas.
For the last thirty-nine years, Pauline lived in the home she built with her husband at 2223 West Blvd. The house is across the street from the home where they first met in the 1930s.
Despite dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, Pauline was able to enjoy life with her family, and celebrated her 100 birthday on December 16, 2016.
“Mom’s family, religion and her country were always important to her,” said Walter, Jr. “She never had a bad thing to say about anyone and always opened her home to all. She was always there to support us in anything.”
Pauline is survived by her sons Walter, Jr., Edward and Michael; nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.