“...in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”
- Madeline Miller, Circe
Kent Alfred Marthaler was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 6, 1939. He was delivered at Ravenswood Hospital by Dr. Marshall Field, to his parents, Alfred Jacob Marthaler of Chicago and Marguerite Leona Quintenz of Chicago Heights. Kent grew up in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor in the Horner Park area of Chicago. The summers of his youth were spent at Illinois Turner Camp on the Fox River, where he met dear lifelong friends.
Kent attended Bateman Elementary School and Lane Technical High School, where he swam competitively and followed an architectural curriculum. At age thirteen he discovered a love for architectural drafting and pursued his passion for architecture through the rest of his life. Kent attended University of Illinois from 1958 to 1963 earning a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture Design. He was an active member of the Sigma Pi Fraternity as well as a competitive badminton player.
Following college he worked at as an architect at Perkins & Will, and later at Lobel, Schlossman, Bennett & Dart and Ted Quintas Architects. From 1971 to 1978 he was Project Manager with the City of Chicago Building Department, and then returned to architecture at the firm of Gordon Burns. Kent established his own architectural and contracting/home inspection business in 1980, focused on restoration work in the Lake Michigan's North Shore area.
He met Janet Hiller while both were protesting the Viet Nam War at the 1968 Democratic Convention Riots in Chicago’s Grant Park. They married on September 20, 1969, sharing the next 54 years of life together. Kent and Jan traveled to Architectural and historic locations in the US, Europe, and Middle East, exploring sites of the Civil War and World Wars I and II. He was a certified diver and the family shared many experiences snorkeling and diving. Kent reached his dream diving destination in 2005 when he dove the shipwrecks of Chuuk Lagoon near Guam. He adored animals and could be seen walking his dogs (and cat following close behind) in the neighborhood, making friends with other dog walkers. He loved camping and nature and was an avid fan of all sports, enjoying regular participation in volleyball leagues throughout his life.
Kent and Jan bought their home in Evanston in 1973, and he completed construction projects and carpentry work on this home for the next 50 years. He was especially gratified to see a project grow from his drawings to building completion. He developed “Old House Workshops” through the Preservation League of Evanston and presented them to residents. The family spent many peaceful days in the log home he built in Phelps, Wisconsin, enjoying visits with family and friends.
Kent is survived by wife Janet Sharon Hiller, children Kirsten O’Neill, Hannah Marthaler (David Ball), Lucas Marthaler (Jessica Czaplinki), and grandchildren Maggie O’Neill, Juliana Ball and Conor Ball. He was preceded in death by his parents and older brother, Larry Jacob Marthaler.
A celebration of Kent's life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in his memory to your local animal shelter or PAWS. https://www.pawschicago.org/