Remembering Todd R. Martin, 1976-2021

Family and friends are remembering Todd R. Martin, and sharing this with his community:

How can one sum up such a remarkable life in a few paragraphs?

In the spring of 2020, Todd Raymond Martin was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Being the private person that he was, he wanted to keep the circle of people who knew about his illness small. Despite receiving treatment, the cancer spread rapidly. We are heartbroken to report that Todd passed away on January 31st at University of Washington Medical Center at the age of 44.

Todd was truly a Renaissance man in every sense of the term. He was a historian, a very gifted writer, impressionist painter, bluesy rock musician, black truffle loving foodie, photographer, explorer, entrepreneur, and a self-taught programmer with a successful career. He was a lover of books, rye whiskey, old typewriters, and roads less traveled.

He was the son of a farmer, a hillbilly, and a gentleman who always put his loved one’s comfort before his own. Todd was a Midwesterner by birth, and a lifelong Ohio State football fan.

He taught literature, rhetoric, and creative writing at Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of South Carolina.

He traveled the world and made friends wherever he went. He lived all over the country, eventually settling in Seattle where he met the love of his life, Danelle Jay and landed his “dream job” at Microsoft, working with a team of people who became an extended family. The impact he has had will last far beyond his time with us. He was a calm and steadying presence, always optimistic and a fighter until his last breath. He was loved by many, and the way he loved others was very evident.

In his typical fashion, he was adamant that no pomp and ceremony surround his passing. His ashes will be dispersed in areas that were meaningful to him. Should any wish to honor his memory further, he requested that any donations made in his name be directed to cancer research facilities such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Donations to the Todd Raymond Martin memorial fund can be made at

Alternatively, Todd was passionate about being a good steward of our natural resources.

Todd and Danelle’s church was the forest, and it would make him smile to know more trees were planted in his memory.

While we are devastated by his death, there is comfort in knowing that his pain and suffering are over. His mother and fiancée were by his side when he passed, holding his hands and reminding him that he is so very loved by so many.

He is survived by both of his parents, his older brother, and his fiancée.

“When you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”
-Cormac McCarthy

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to

14 Replies to "Remembering Todd R. Martin, 1976-2021"

  • Dani February 3, 2021 (9:16 am)

    My Love, there aren’t words to express the void left behind by your passing. You have the strongest, most compassionate heart, and everyone who met you was better off for having known you.  You are my best friend, and I will miss you every minute of every day. Thank you for the last three and a half years. Though I wanted so much more time with you, I’m so grateful for all the living we did together, all the adventures we went on, all the quiet moments we shared. You gave me life’s greatest gift in showing me what it means to love and be loved in return. I love you always.
    More than yesterday.
    Less than tomorrow.
    And I’ll be there when you wake up.

    • Sunflower February 3, 2021 (10:00 am)

      Thank you for sharing these such beautiful words of love. So sorry for your loss and pain. Wishing you all the support you will need to be strong, to persist on bravely and beautifully, through this great loss and separation.

    • Many Condolences February 3, 2021 (11:49 pm)

      What a thoughtful and beautiful tribute to the love of your life. You are so fortunate to have known that type of love and I am very sorry for your loss of your love. With the amazing person that he was, I know his love & light will shine bright thru you to share with so many. God bless.

    • Gayle February 6, 2021 (9:53 am)

      From a Butler County 4H family member we. Wish to extend to all Todd’s loved ones our deepest sympathy.   Our older children knew Todd and remember all the fun and good times at the fair.  Todd took the time one summer to find me at the Fair and to share words of comfort on the loss of our daughter. His  actions and thoughtfulness meant all the world to me. He was such a kind and understanding person and will be missed by many.

  • MS February 3, 2021 (9:20 am)

    So  sorry for your lose , the words you spoke of him were beautiful and may you all find peace in the memories you hold in your heart

  • Mike Jay February 3, 2021 (10:21 am)

    Todd my life is better for having known you. I will celibrate yours for the rest of mine.Danelle no words will fill the void, I only pray that time will be kind and bring you peace. You are surrounded with love and prayers.The sun will rise again however not is bright.

  • JayJay February 3, 2021 (10:24 am)

    What a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary person. I’m so very sorry for your loss. 

  • john February 3, 2021 (11:13 am)

    So sorry for your loss.  Sounds like he was a wonderful guy – very sorry to hear about this… 

  • Craig February 3, 2021 (1:46 pm)

    Sorry for your loss. He’s the kind of guy I want to be. Thanks for the reminder of a role model. 

  • Yonnie February 3, 2021 (6:21 pm)

    I will forever remember our many enthusiastic sharing of favorite foods and whiteboarding complex solutions, being marveled at Todd’s grace and ability to connect the dots for us all. He was truly a wonderful human being, and my life has been enriched by his presence then, now, and forever. We are all heartbroken, and there aren’t words to express our grief. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute . Dani, we’re here for you and the family. Our hearts go out to you.

  • Eric Pegasus February 4, 2021 (8:55 am)

    Todd was an incredible person, I am truly saddened by this news, what a loss for our community and to all who knew him.  I was able to meet Todd and Dani through the bookstore and we became friends discussing travel (especially outdoors adventures), cuisine (mostly mushroom based), and current affairs. He was always very kind, knowledgeable, and respectful, adding insight to any conversation we had.  And, he knew his books, that’s for sure. More than a handful of times, he was able to assist me with customer requests, especially when it dealt with obscure historical inquiries. Seriously, he was such a great person. Our thoughts go out to Dani and Todd’s family and close friends, so sorry for your loss.

  • wseaturtle February 4, 2021 (11:20 am)

    Playing some good  blues right now  for Todd.

  • Jason February 4, 2021 (8:08 pm)

    I had the privilege of being a part of Todd’s team at Microsoft. In the Spring, early in the days when we had all begun remote work because of COVID-19, Todd called me to let me know he wasn’t feeling well. His initial hope was that working out at home had caused some of the discomfort he was feeling. But a week or so later, tests confirmed the worst fears that he had cancer.

    Since that time, Todd not only fought hard but worked hard. He would regularly comment that though his strength was weakened, he loved the purpose and meaning the work and the team brought to him. I regularly connected with Todd, and made it a habit that every single week since April, I’ve sent him a Friday update video. I’d share what was happening with the team, and all our thoughts and prayers for him. It became not just part of my routine, but one of my favorite parts of the week.

    Todd never, ever expected or took for granted the generosity his co-workers and friends showed to support him. Every meal, every card was met with enthusiastic and gracious surprise. He’d say things like “Dani and I were blown away by the delivery Saturday. Not only was the food delicious, but the generosity of the team was overwhelming. Can’t thank you and the team enough for the care and support. Much love from Dani and I to all.”

    Though the cancer took his strength, it never took away his ability to have hope for the future, and he remarked on several occasions that “there’s still a lot of fight left, but today I feel like I got ‘em against the ropes.”

    As recent as just two weeks ago when Todd went in for emergency surgery, he would say “This should be a relatively simple procedure, nonetheless, one I wish we could go without. If all goes well with the procedure, I hope to be able to get back to the team in two weeks.”

    I’m struck by the idea that while there are no words that could capture the grief and loss, there are also no words that could capture the joy of life that was witnessed in Todd.

    Our team wasn’t just better with Todd. Our team remains better because of Todd.

  • Bethaney February 9, 2021 (9:34 am)

    I had the honor and privilege of knowing Todd for 30 years, but have found in the tears shed since his death a profound grief, not for our beloved circle of friends or even myself, but for all of you, especially Dani and his family who should have had at least that much more time with him and preferably more. 

    As a dear friend of ours said this weekend, Todd was the best of us… Sure, he knew how to have fun, but he just as often declined our invitations for rowdiness and instead chose to spend many of nights in the solace of his family’s farmhouse. I’ll admit, I didn’t realize it until the last time I saw him, which was 6 or so years ago, but he was comfortable in his own skin and attune to himself and the finer qualities of life well before the rest of us began to even comprehend such complexities (or simplicities actually). 

    His friendship was as true and as pure as his heart. His mind and intellect were as grand as his perspective. His love for those fortunate enough to be embraced by it was as profound as his devotion to exploring, honoring, and preserving life’s intricate beauties. 

    I wish there were more like him. I wish with all that I am that he was still living amongst us.

    My deepest of condolences to each of you. 

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