CANNON BEACH — Janice Kay Martin, who co-founded Cannon Beach’s Steve Martin Management Co. with her late husband, died Saturday at her home in Palm Desert, California, after a battle with cancer. She was 77.
The 40-year-old company, which has been renamed Martin North, manages several Cannon Beach properties, including the Stephanie Inn, Surfsand Resort and Wayfarer Restaurant.
Martin’s husband, Steve, died from cancer in 2000. She is survived by daughter Stephanie Snyder, Stephanie’s husband, Ryan Snyder, and their two children. Ryan Snyder and his wife have operated Martin North and its properties since 2004.
“Inspirational. That is the word that sums up my feeling for Jan and her impact on so many,” Ryan Snyder wrote in an email. “From the moment I met her, I felt fortunate to experience a heart of integrity, and commitment … a soul strong and courageous. And those principles were inspiring as you watched her approach life and death. I will miss her, her zest for friendships, her love of family, her joy in being a grandmother to our two kids, and the love I felt as her son-in-law.”
Jan was raised on a North Dakota farm, where she lived with her family before marrying Steve Martin in 1967. The couple was living in The Dalles before purchasing the Surfsand Resort in 1979. Their portfolio expanded after purchasing multiple Cannon Beach properties, including the Viking Motel, the Haystack Resort, the Wayfarer Restaurant, the RV Resort and the oceanfront property that became the Stephanie Inn.
Dave Norstedt, the vice president of operations at Martin North, knew Jan Martin for years and said between the hard work ethic she learned on the farm and her gentle spirit, she was a natural in the hospitality industry.
“She spent early years cleaning guest rooms and working the front desk,” Norstedt said. “Jan became known for exquisite taste in room decor and interior design. Jan later became the company president. Jan treated me with constant kindness and respect, as she did with all of her employees.”
The couple was often credited for raising the caliber of hospitality in Cannon Beach, with major renovation projects to the Surfsand Resort reshaping the resort town’s oceanfront aesthetic. In 2009, Jan Martin was integral in the design work behind the Stephanie Inn.
“She was kind of behind the scenes, and Steve got a lot of the attention. But they were equals, and what they accomplished was incredible,” said Patrick Nofield of Escape Lodging.
Nofield first met Jan Martin when he took a job with Martin North right out of college in 1986. His memory of her is colored by her graciousness, her kindness and her discipline, he said. He always admired her ability to speak her mind when she thought you were wrong.
But her coarseness was always paired with kindness in the way she would give second chances or advice when you made a mistake, Nofield said.
“It felt like family working there in that way. The story of Jan to me is that she was the matriarch of Cannon Beach in a way,” Nofield said. “She was a roll-up-your-sleeves and make-it-happen kind of woman. Escape Lodging wouldn’t be what it is today without that mentorship from Steve and Jan. They were all about taking care of people, because the money after that takes care of itself.”
For the past 15 years, Jan Martin has been in retirement, coming in and out of the community. But for many, her impact on the hospitality industry — and the town in general — will linger.
“For many of us who work at Martin North today, she was our boss, but most importantly she was our friend,” Norstedt said. “A natural in the hospitality industry, Jan was the consummate host.”