Martha Canclini
Dec. 21, 1926-June 25, 2020

Martha Canclini passed from the Earth on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at the age of 93. She was a resident of Arcata for nearly 70 years. Martha was born December 21, 1926, the daughter and first child of Larry and Helen Williams of Oakland. She and her brother Larry grew up in the Oakland Hills, beneath tall eucalyptus trees, buffeted by the foggy mists of San Francisco Bay. In summer the family made an ‘Exodus North’ to Salyer, California to spend extended visits with the family matriarch, Elzora (Zoe) Barnum - for whom the Zoe Barnum School of Eureka would be named many years later.

Martha had many fond memories of the Bay Area and San Fransisco. She held several jobs there as a young woman, working briefly for newspapers and at least two department stores. She often reflected on the beauty and safety of the City in those bygone years.

One summer, during a visit to Salyer, Martha met Guido Canclini, her future husband. Martha was working at Gambi’s, a popular roadhouse restaurant east of Willow Creek. Even though forewarned about Guido as being somewhat of a “bad boy”, she was unable to resist his handsome smile and country charm. After a whirlwind romance — with a never forgotten first date to hunt the wily boletus edulis fungi, they were married by a justice of the peace in Humboldt Country.

Martha and Guido lived first in Sunny Brae, California with their two children, Candace and Peter.There were many good times with neighbors in the early years of the subdivision of Sunny Brae, but the family departed a few years later for a new place in Bayside. With their great energy, Martha and Guido completely rebuilt a 100-year old farm house on a lovely piece of property overlooking Jacoby Creek. Not one for idle time, Martha used her excellent seamstress skills to make new creations for Candace’s school events and proms, made excellent repairs and alterations when family or friends needed them and besides all that, helped with Peter’s Cub Scout troop.

Martha’s husband, Guido, had been working for many years in the sale and repair of boots and shoes, owning the Plaza shoe shop in Arcata on 9th street from 1947 onward. After the kids were grown, Martha came in to assist Guido in the Plaza Shoe Shop. For many years she graced the Plaza with some of the most tasteful and elegant window displays seen in the town. She often rotated them with the holidays, expending a lot of energy and showing a great deal of pride in her town and the shop. This culminated in her receiving the “First Annual Historic Award’ presented by the City of Arcata in 1986.

A huge part of Martha’s story is her love for the family river property. Martha and Guido developed a wonderful spot on the South Fork of the Trinity River where they constructed many beautiful rock walls, trails and charming cabins overlooking the river. Also, they designed one of the first personal Bocce Courts in Humboldt/Trinity counties! Summer recreation there was a high point for family and many visitors over the years. Martha’s place was known as a beacon of hospitality. She would always serve up a warm welcome and a delicious meal. Martha’s spunky attitude and eclectic taste in decoration became a hallmark of the River Place. Martha’s love for all the little creatures of the hills was well known. She was always a friend of the environment - and for ‘letting things be’. She even had empathy for the poison oak!

Martha and Guido later built a lovely home in Arcata, but Martha’s heart always belonged to the South Fork.

Martha was extremely giving, supporting the SPCA, PBS, Humboldt Area Foundation, Audubon Society, friends of the Dunes, Humboldt Historical Society, the HSU Lumberjack, various local sports teams and many other good causes near and far.

Martha was preceded in death by her husband, Guido, and her brother, Larry. She is survived by her daughter Candace, her son Tad & wife Kelly, (their children Sydney & Grace) and by her son Peter, his son Delan & wife Shelby (their children Willow and Magnolia).

In the final days of her life during the Covid-19 restrictions, Martha was unable to be surrounded by the love of family and friends that she so much desired. She was not stricken with the virus herself; but the resulting separation from loved ones was almost as terrible.

The Canclini family wish to offer our prayers for the families who have suffered similarly from this cruel virus. We extend our sincerest thanks to the medical staff and caregivers who have sacrificed so greatly with their service to us. God bless you all! We are especially grateful to the staff and management of Frye’s Care Home and also to the loving caregivers of Hospice of Humboldt.

In due time, when we are blessed with a respite from the onslaught of covid - 19, our family is planning a celebration of life for Martha. We will try to reach everyone, but we may overlook some — for Martha was well-loved. Send a message, if you’d like to be added to our list for a future celebration.

In lieu of flowers, we suggest that friends make a donation to a charity of their choice. Or perhaps they may want to consider offering a helping hand to a person or a family in need…


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Martha Canclini’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.