In Loving Memory of Martin Toavs

Life Legacy

After Living a long, full life, Martin Toavs, of Wolf Point, MT, went to be with his Lord on February 3, 2012, at the age of 89.

Martin John Toavs was born on May 4, 1922, the second child of Nicholas F. Toavs and Katie Penner Toavs. He was born at home and delivered by his father on the homestead located southeast of Volt. Martin was one of thirteen children and learned at a very young age how to work in the fields and help out on the farm. Because he was one of the older children, he was responsible for the others and it was his job to see that they completed the chores they were assigned to do.

Martin accepted Christ as his Savior as a small boy and was baptized in November of 1935, at the age of 13 in the Bethel Mennonite church. Reverend Esau, the blind evangelist, was the pastor at the time. Martin served on the Board of his church for many years. His favorite book in the Bible was Proverbs, because it tells the consequences for every action a person can do on this earth. His favorite hymn was “Saved By Grace”.

Martin started school at the age of 5. He attended the Wide Awake School for 8 years. The children walked roughly 2 miles across country to attend. Martin always said it didn’t take long for him to dislike school. The family spoke Low German at home so Martin didn’t know English very well. Because of the language barrier, school was a challenge for him. It wasn’t until he mastered the English language that school became interesting and enjoyable. When not needed on the farm, he attended Wolf Point High School and enjoyed playing the tuba in the band. He graduated at the age of 19 with his sister, Margaret and his brother, Frank. His father, Nicholas Toavs, was Chairman of the Board for the School District at that time.

Martin lived through the hard times of the “Dirty Thirties”. His mother often made “summer soup” out of Russian thistles and other greens. During 1935 and 1936 this became their normal fare as food was scarce. From this experience, Martin learned to be thankful for what one had and not to waste anything. His story of the grasshopper drinking his coffee while other grasshoppers chewed off his shoestrings when he was out fencing as a boy was a favorite with the grandchildren. Coming from a large family, Martin was close with his brothers and told many tales of the mischief they could get up to when “Pa” wasn’t looking.

Martin met the love of his life, Magdalene Spenst, in 1939. He had ridden with his cousin, Clarence Krahn, to North Dakota for Thanksgiving to visit relatives. They attended a service at the local church. This was an old Mennonite church where the men sat on one side and the women on the other. Maggie turned around in church and Martin spotted her big brown eyes and was smitten. After the service, Clarence and Martin gave Maggie and her brother, Erwin, a ride home from church. When they got out of the car, Martin asked Maggie if she would write to him and she said yes. That was the beginning of their friendship.

Martin and Maggie were married June 20, 1944, in Columbus, Ohio where Martin was stationed in the US Navy. Their honeymoon was cut short as the War was on and Martin was called away to Oakland, California where his unit was waiting to be shipped out. Martin was in the B26 squadron and was the radar technician. It was his job to be sure the radar in our planes and the planes of our Allies was repaired and working properly. For most of the war, he was stationed on the island of Ulithi. His war experiences have been an inspiration and comfort to many of his grandsons.

When the war was over, Martin and Maggie returned to Montana and purchased a small farm on Wolf Creek from his brother, Ted. To their union, seven children were born, Marilyn Jean, Maxine Joyce, Maureen Judith, Marlene June, Martin Jeffrey, Mary JoAnn, and Marvin Joel. Joining the family were daughters, Linda Lowry, Delores Lowry, and Cheryl Fox. As their mission field, Martin and Maggie opened their home to over 28 foster children over the years. After Maggie’s death on October 24, 1992, Martin continued to raise another granddaughter, Kayla Good Bird Toavs, with the help of Marvin and WilBerta Toavs. He lived his faith and tried to be an example for his family.

Martin was talented in many areas. He loved to work. He was a master mechanic, carpenter, plumber, electrician, and farmer/rancher. Outside of working, hunting was his hobby. While raising his family, his hunting skills put meat on the table throughout the years. He followed a family tradition and never worked on Sundays, but gave that time to the Lord.

Martin was always a quiet man and wasn’t one for crowds. He loved going to church and visiting others after the service. After Maggie passed away, Martin enjoyed going to the café for coffee or lunch, getting to know the workers as if they were family. He enjoyed the little children when he got older, said the reason he never thought to go south for the winter was because there were no little ones around to entertain and keep him young. His sense of humor and stories have kept the family entertained for many years.

Our Dad said he was not perfect and there were things in life he had done and things he hadn’t taken the time to do that he often regretted. But you do the best you can with what you know at the time, and when you search for the Lord’s guidance, He always forgives and shows you a better way if we are willing to listen to Him.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Nicholas and Katie Toavs; wife, Magdalene; four brothers, Theodore “Ted”, Nicholas, Reuben, and Wilmer; one sister, Susie; two grandsons; and one great grandson.

Martin is survived by his children, Marilyn (Joe) Anderson and Maxine (Glenn) Strader both of Wolf Point, Judy (Harry) Haber of Froid, MT, Molly (Jim) Kent of St. Ignatious, MT, Martin Jeff (Suzy) of Lincoln, NE, Mary (Cory) Nelson of Vida, MT, Marvin (Berta) Toavs of the family farm, Linda Lowry Wood and Delores Leggett of Wolf Point, Cheryl Boushie of Florida, and Kayla Good Bird Toavs of Wolf Point; three brothers, Frank, Arlee, and Jim; four sisters, Margaret Heidner, Ruth Spenst, Elizabeth Lokken, and Hannah Shuttlesworth; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

Viewing will start at 2 p.m. with a family service at 7 p.m. Friday, February 10 at the Clayton Stevenson Memorial Chapel of Wolf Point. A funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, February 11 also at the Clayton Stevenson Memorial Chapel in Wolf Point. Interment will follow at the Greenwood Cemetery in Wolf Point.

05/04/1922  -  02/03/2012

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Born: May 4, 1922

Death: February 3, 2012

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