George C. Martin, chief engineer of 'Stratojet'
Seattle Times staff reporter
George C. Martin was one of the major contributors to aviation science in the Pacific Northwest.
During Mr. Martin's 41-year career with Boeing, he rose to the position of vice president of engineering and was considered by colleagues to be an expert in the structural design and analysis for the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress bombers.
He was the chief project engineer for the XB-47 "Stratojet," an experimental swept-wing jet bomber, with speeds and maneuverability that far exceeded the Army Air Force's expectations.
His work with the XB-47 program was recognized in 1987 by the Museum of Flight in Tukwila as "the greatest single advancement in long-range, high-speed aircraft in history and provided the basis for every Boeing jetliner and jet bomber that followed."
"Aviation was his love and heart. That was his life," said Mr. Martin's wife, Mary Martin.
Mr. Martin died of pneumonia May 21 at the Horizon House retirement community in Seattle. He had just celebrated his 93rd birthday.
Mr. Martin was born May 16, 1910, in Everett. As a child, he spent countless hours fly-fishing on the Stillaguamish River, a hobby he enjoyed his entire life.
After graduating from Everett High School, Mr. Martin had a conversation with his grandfather, an influential man in his life, his wife said.
"He said, 'George, the future is in the air. Why don't you go into aviation,' " Mary Martin said. "He was just a smart old man and took a great interest in George's life."
So, on the advice of his grandfather, Mr. Martin attended the University of Washington and received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1931. He was a member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity. A fraternity brother, Jimmy Patrick, introduced Mr. Martin to his sister, whom he later married.
Several months after graduating, Mr. Martin took a position with Boeing as a member of the Engineering Stress Analysis Group. He went on to be the chief engineer of the Boeing Seattle Division, vice president-general manager of the Seattle Division and vice president-engineering of Boeing's corporate headquarters. He retired in 1972.
"George's main accolades from the Boeing people with whom he worked was that he helped the young people advance," Mary Martin said. "Not every boss does that."
Mr. Martin belonged to numerous aviation organizations, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Aerospace Technical Council, Aerospace Industries Association, National Security Industrial Association, Navy League, American Ordnance Association and the Association of the United States Army.
In recognition of Mr. Martin's contributions to aviation science, Boeing funded a chair in his name at the UW's Engineering Department. In 1983, he also was honored with the UW'S Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.
When Mr. Martin wasn't working, he could be found fishing on the Stillaguamish or hiking and sailing with his daughters.
A private memorial will be held by the immediate family. Mr. Martin asked that his ashes be scattered in the Stillaguamish River.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Martin is survived by a daughter, Edith Martin Shreeve, of Houston, and granddaughter Sarah Martin Shreeve, of Fredericksburg, Texas. He was preceded in death by daughter Marian Martin.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to the UW Aeronautics and Astronautics department or the Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park.
J.J. Jensen: 206-464-2386 or email@example.com
Information in this article, originally published May 26, was corrected May 29. George Martin was honored with the University of Washington Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1983. An obituary Monday incorrectly said he was named the universitys alumnus of the year in 1963.
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