Although Marshal Martz passed away in 1979, a local group of astronomers, friends and community members are working to keep his memory, and love of science, alive for future generations.
The Marshal Martz Astronomical Association, founded in 1978 by Martz himself, recently established an endowment fund with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to provide charitable support to their organization.
In 1945, Martz grew tired of traveling as a talented musician. He and his wife Mary settled down in the area and looked for work. An avid learner, Martz began to explore the world of science and astronomy and enrolled in an off-campus program through the University of Chicago. He received his teaching certificate and was offered a teaching position at Jamestown Community College in 1955.
Gary Nelson, Marshal Martz Memorial Astronomical Association president, signs the endowment fund agreement as Randy Sweeney, Community Foundation executive director, looks on.
For more than 20 years, Martz taught, inspired and explored the world of astronomy with his students. With the coming of the space age and man's first steps on the moon, Martz covered it all. Upon his retirement, he was granted the status of professor emeritus from the State University of New York.
One of Martz's greatest aspirations during his life was to build the largest telescope in the world, built by an individual. With emotional, physical and financial support from Mary, and their mothers, Martz succeeded in his goal. The telescope he built, as well as the home he created for his family around it, still stands today. The Martz Observatory is located on Robin Hill Road in Frewsburg.
After Martz's passing at the age of 69, Mary continued living at the observatory for many years. Following her passing in 2007, the observatory was left in the care of the association.
Due to the dedication of all members, the Marshal Martz Memorial Astronomical Association is able to continue the mission of their namesake, by informing, educating and inspiring individuals through science. Today, the Martz Observatory has been utilized by the Association to conduct meetings, give tours and host a variety of classes and programs to students and interested parties from across the Western New York Region.
For more information on the Martz Observatory or to schedule a trip, visit their website, martzobservatory.org.
For more information on contributing to the Marshal Martz Memorial Astronomical Association, Inc. Fund contact the Community Foundation at 661-3390 or visit online at crcfonline.org.