Martha Jorgensen was born in Haycock, Alaska on September 4, 1925 to Ole and Jessie Jorgensen. She was the second of seven children, three boys and four girls. Her father died the day before her ninth birthday. As the oldest daughter, Martha became a surrogate parent and so began her life of service.
At the age of 17, Martha moved to Nome, Alaska where she worked at the Nome Grill. She met and married William L. Major in May of 1948. In 1952 they and their four children moved to Fairbanks. Four more children were added to the family. In the summer of 1964, they moved to Glennallen, where they owned and operated Gateway Lodge and later the Glennallen Laundromat. After selling the laundromat, Bill worked for Copper Valley Electric until retirement in 1985. Bill and Martha enjoyed several years of traveling around the Lower 48 in their motorhome. When that became too much they settled in Big Lake, Alaska.
In 1998, Bill and Martha returned to Fairbanks and enjoyed their “in-law” apartment on Old Chena Ridge Road. Bill spent his final three years of life in the Fairbanks Pioneer Home. Martha visited daily and sometimes all day.
Martha’s knitted garments have been treasured by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends. Her expertise in the kitchen which was developed at a young age made her meals exceptional. Her bread, dinner and cinnamon rolls were superior and enjoyed by all. Providing meals for a minimum of 11 people was the norm in the early years and on a very limited budget. Martha was an expert at economizing. Because of the family situation, Martha only received an eighth-grade education. In the spring of 1974 she received her GED at the same time her youngest daughter graduated from Glennallen High School.
Martha was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. She will be greatly missed.
Martha died July 10, 2020. She endured multiple health issues. Her failing eye sight was extremely difficult but she also dealt with heart and some intestinal issues.
Martha was preceded in death by her spouse of more than 60 years, William L. Major, her oldest daughter Shirley Bauhof, her brothers Lars, Trygve, Holger Jorgensen and sister June Jackson.
Martha is survived by seven of her children, their spouses, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Children and spouses include: Bill and Ginny Major, NE; Marsha and Dick Armstrong, Anchorage; Leona Blankenship, Anchorage; Denise and Vic Wallace, Fairbanks; Linda and Kevin Walsh, Fairbanks; Lori and Arvid Waisenen, HI; Brian and Becky Major, WA. Thelma Christoffersen Barnum (Valdez) and Bing Martin (Oregon) are the two remaining Jorgensen siblings.
Martha resided in the Fairbanks Pioneer Home for the last three years. She became friends with several of the residents and some of the staff. Much thanks goes to those who gave her friendship and wonderful care.
A memorial plaque will be placed in the Palmer Cemetery near to spouse William’s plaque. Her ashes will be combined with his and daughter Shirley’s ashes. They will be spread at a later date.
“A true servant wore out her body from a giving and loving heart.”