Dee Martz, 68, of Stevens Point passed away peacefully during the early hours of October 10, 2013, after a valiant battle with cancer.
She is remembered by all as a wonderful, committed wife, mother, musician, teacher, mentor and leader, as well as a spirited, warm and inspirational friend to all who had the pleasure of knowing her. Born to Paul A. Root and Ruth O. (Barnes) Root of Ann Arbor, Michigan April 25, 1945, the second of five daughters, she was named Elizabeth Dee but was always called Dee, which was her maternal grandmother’s maiden name. At age 14 she fell in love with and subsequently devoted her life to playing and teaching the viola. Her viola teachers included Nathan Gordon while she was in high school, and David Dawson and Irving Ilmer in college. She attended the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as a music major, and it was there that she met and fell in love with Brian Martz, also a music major. They were married on September 23, 1966. They lived in Germany for a year while Brian was in the U.S. Army and later spent 2½ years in Lima, Perú, where both played in the National Symphony Orchestra of Perú. In 1975 they returned to Bloomington, Indiana, where Brian pursued doctoral studies in music and Dee became a full time homemaker while their three children were in their early years. In 1978 Brian was offered a position in the music department at UWSP, and the family moved to Stevens Point.
The next year Dee began teaching viola part time in the music department, which she continued doing throughout her career and into her retirement until her recent illness made it impossible. Her talents, creativity, organizational ability, work ethic and no-nonsense people skills were quickly recognized on the campus, and over the years she was asked to serve on many important university wide committees. Within four or five years she was appointed Director of the Conservatory for Creative Expression, the College of Fine Arts outreach program, which in a very short time she built from a small, struggling program about to fail into a robust, successful one. In 1984 she was appointed assistant director of the American Suzuki Institute (ASI) and the American Suzuki Talent Education Center, now the Aber Suzuki Center (ASC). Two years later she was appointed director, a position she held for 23 years, retiring in 2009. During her years in Stevens Point she was also the principal violist in the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra and played in many chamber music concerts with music department colleagues. After retiring from her position as Director of ASC and ASI she played for two summers in the South Beach Up North chamber music festival in Wausau. Throughout her career she was very active as a Suzuki teacher outside Stevens Point, as well, teaching at Suzuki workshops in Salt Lake City, Chicago, North Carolina, British Columbia, Puerto Rico, Chile, Perú, Australia and Alaska, among others. She also served two terms on the Suzuki Association of the Americas Board of Directors. No matter what hat she was wearing – musician, teacher, or administrator—in her mind and heart it was all about the people, whether they were her viola students here in Stevens Point, students she had at the many far-flung workshops at which she taught, the faculty who worked under her in the ASC or the ASI, or the many, many students and their families who came to the ASI each August. She always did everything she could to assure that each student had the very best experience they could have, and she encouraged and mentored numerous young and some not-so-young Suzuki teachers in various stages of their careers. Many of the university viola students she taught over the years have said they learned as much about life as about the viola from her. A frequent refrain is, “I am a better person because of Dee Martz’s influence.”
A fellow institute director and good friend said, “Dee had a genuine love for everyone around her. She emanated a light that attracted everyone. Her institute flourished because of that light. A light like Dee’s does not go out.”
Dee is survived by Brian, her husband of 47 years, their three children, Alyssa (Matthew) Brewer of Baraboo, WI, who teaches elementary school music in Spring Green, Paul (Christine) of Harrisburg, PA, who works as a staffer with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and Daniel (Mandy) of Whitefish Bay, WI, a Navy Lieutenant who is currently teaching ROTC at Marquette University; by her mother, Ruth Root of Sarasota, FL, her four sisters, Peggy (Paul) Quinn of Stillwater, MN, Cathy (Mike) McInerney of Sterling Heights, MI, Tracy (Henry) Weck of Memphis, TN, and Cindy Breault of Sarasota, FL; and by eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
There will be a private burial this Tuesday and a celebration of her life at a future time to be announced. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Ministry Home Care-Hospice of Stevens Point, WI (make checks out to Ministry Home Care-Hospice and mail to Hospice Donations, 2501 Main St. Suite A, Stevens Point, WI 54481, or call 800-398-1297 ), the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Marshfield, WI (type American Cancer Society Hope Lodge-Marshfield into your browser and click on the “Donate to this Hope Lodge” button, or mail checks to ACS Hope Lodge, 611 W. Doege St., Marshfield, WI 54449 or call 800-227-2345), or the Aber Suzuki Center scholarship fund. Please visit www.uwsp.edu/givenow , click “other” and designate your gift in Dee’s memory to the Suzuki Education Enhancement Fund.