On December 27, 2018, Sandpoint lost a valued member of its community, Tamie Jo Martinsen. She passed away peacefully at the Schneidmiller Hospice House in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, at the age of 57. She was cared for by skilled and compassionate staff in her final days while surrounded by family and friends. Tamie was born on her father’s birthday, March 5, 1961, in Helena, Mont. She graduated from Helena Capital High School in 1979. She then attended the University of Montana in Missoula where she studied Spanish. It was in Missoula that she met the love of her life, Larry. The couple married on January 8, 1988. They moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, where they would raise their three boys, Cassidy, Josha and Seager.
Together, Tamie and Larry sold produce at the Sandpoint Farmers Market where she was a devoted board member and vendor for over 25 years. Early on they sold organic produce grown on their farm, Sacred Earth Farm. She also sold handmade baskets, needle felted woolly people, flower and vegetable starts, stunning fresh cut flowers and garlic. She selflessly poured her motherly love and logic into helping the market grow strong, retaining its core values.
Tamie put up a ferocious fight against cancer, referring to it as the “Cancer Dragon.” Being diagnosed set her on a new path. She joined the Radical Remission community and sought to help others from her own experience by sharing her wisdom and knowledge. She was equally devoted to her work at Bonner Homeless Transitions, where in 2005, she began her career as an advocate for victims of abuse at the Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter. In 2008, she became the Program Manager of Blue Haven Homeless Shelter. She worked daily with clients providing case management, transportation, crisis intervention, budgeting, parenting, and employment opportunities. Tamie was always there just to listen when someone needed to vent, and did so with no judgment, but just to advise if requested. As one client recently said, “She was our mother, sister, and best friend. I am successful today because of her.” This sentiment applies to the hundreds of families and individuals she served in northern Idaho.
Tamie had the profound ability to tackle any issue in all aspects of her life, including her cancer. She was a sounding board and pillar of wisdom for everyone who knew her. She always spoke the voice of reason, presenting solutions based in fairness and integrity which benefited all. Love poured out of her heart and soul, residing at the core of her being. Tamie shared in many adventures with friends and family throughout the years and all over the world. In India she was kissed by elephants, in Turkey she was graced by a dancer, in Alaska she slept under the stars while working on fishing boats. The art in Italy deeply moved her. Yet even still, people were always her greatest joy. Her smile and laugh were quick to heal and her love for life and family strong. Knowing Tamie was a great honor. Sharing her love and joy for this life will never be forgotten by those who were closest to her. She was a walking ray of sunshine and lives on in those she touched. Shine on Tamie.
Tamie is survived by her husband, Larry Higgins; their three sons, Cass Higgins, Josha Higgins, and Seager Higgins; along with grandchildren Ari Higgins and Sage Higgins. Tamie is also survived by her siblings, Lila Garrick, Lyle Martinsen, and Gary (Lori) Martinsen; nieces, Gayleen Strachan, Heidi Boehm, and Amber Martinsen-Blake; nephew, Jay Martinsen; and several great-nieces and great-nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Clarence and Ethel Martinsen; and her brother, Glen Martinsen.
In lieu of flowers, help continue her kindness, loyalty, and compassion by donating to Bonner Homeless Transitions, 330 South Florence Avenue, Sandpoint, ID 83864.
A celebration of life will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Sandpoint on Jan. 12, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. with a reception to follow at DiLunas at 2 p.m. In the spring a graveside interment will be held in Helena, Mont., with burial at Forestvale Cemetery.
Lakeview Funeral Home in Sandpoint is handling the arrangements. Please visit Tamie’s online memorial at lakeviewfuneral.com and sign her guest book.