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Marta Lee Whitlock, 69

| March 31, 2024 12:00 AM

Marta Lee Whitlock, a much beloved and larger-than-life figure to the people and animals around her, left this Earth on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. She died peacefully at the home she and her husband, Dave, built overlooking Flathead Lake, just outside of Polson.

The first child and only daughter of Roger and Marcia Austin, Marta was born Sept. 24, 1954, in Lafayette, Ind.

She graduated from Jefferson High School in 1973 and she completed Industrial Cooperative Training at the Lafayette Beauty Academy.

Marta was a fiercely independent woman of immeasurable strength who carved her own path in life. Soon after the birth of her first son, Eric, Marta's adventurous spirit led her from Lafayette to Oklahoma City, where she welcomed a second son, Adam, and met the love of her life, David Whitlock. They moved to Santa Fe, N.M., where the family grew with the birth of her third son, Ian, before they moved to Polson.

Marta built a home in all four states, dedicated her life to her husband, three sons and their families, and the countless dogs, cats, horses (and even a burro) that found their way into her care.

Few people have the love and capacity to care for animals the way Marta did; her passion for the well-being of animals was limitless. This generosity included rescuing a dog seen eating rocks from the side of a busy highway, adopting a mother cat and her nine kittens (plus a bonus cat), and convincing Dave to bring home not one, but three wild mustangs from the New Mexico State Penitentiary. 

Marta's sons also sometimes suspected that their pets had a better time at the "Many Hearts Ranch & Pet Spa" than at their own homes. She never hesitated to take her beloved "grandpets" for a week or a weekend to give them a taste of the good life.

Marta beamed with pride at the accomplishments of her boys. She kept detailed albums outlining educational awards, promotions, career and personal milestones.

She filled her home inside and out with art, many pieces created by people close to her: lifelong friend Bobette Lerma, son Adam, her father, Roger Austin, and mother-in-law Jane Kennedy. Outside, Marta and Dave created living art with elaborate gardens in natural stone beds built by their own hands.

Marta had a special place in her heart for all children, but none more so than her granddaughter, Madeleine. The two formed an inseparable bond over reading, cats, and the fairies that hid among the poppies, hollyhocks and peonies in her colorful gardens.

Marta is preceded in death by her mother, Marcia Mae, and father, Roger Warner Austin, sister-in-law Kathy (Milt) Austin, and half-sister Connie Godby.

She is survived by her husband, David Whitlock; brothers Mark (Jackie) Austin and Milt Austin; her sons, Eric (Cassandra) Jochim, Adam Jochim, and Ian (Vanessa) Whitlock; granddaughter Madeleine Jochim; and mother-in-law Jane Kennedy.

Friends in Montana wishing to pay their respects to Marta and the family are invited to visit the Lake Funeral Home at 101 Sixth Avenue East in Polson on Monday, April 1, between 3 and p.m. A funeral service will be held Tuesday April 2 from 2-4 p.m. In lieu of flowers we would like people to donate to the Mission Valley Animal Shelter or animal rescue of their choice.

Marta will be buried in her family plot at Grand View Cemetery following a separate service on Saturday, April 6, at Soller Baker Funeral Home at 400 Twyckenham Blvd. in Lafayette, Ind. Memories and condolences may be sent to the family at www.lakefuneralhomeandcremation.com.

Arrangements are under the care of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.