Marlene Kay “Marti” Hollenback, dealer-owner of Dishman Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep, was remembered Thursday for her leadership, community involvement and appreciation of her employees.
Hollenback died April 15 at Valley Hospital after suddenly falling ill hours earlier. She was 74. A cause of death had not been determined, family members said.
Her daughter, Denielle Stuhlmiller, said the family had just returned from a vacation in Hawaii where Hollenback joined others on a waterslide.
Hollenback had a long history of volunteerism and charitable giving, both personally and through the dealership, including the donation of a van to Meals on Wheels.
“She was the most selfless human being,” Stuhlmiller said.
Hollenback was a devoted grandmother and was caring for a grandson when she became ill and went to the hospital on Friday night, Stuhlmiller said.
“She was truly a mom and a grandmother everyone wishes they had,” Stuhlmiller said.
Ruth Seignemartin, a nursing classmate and close friend, said, “She has always been so active and healthy. Marti was vital.”
“I am shocked,” said Gary Gilchrist, of Gilchrist Auto Center in Tacoma.
“She was an extraordinary dealer and a great friend. … She will be deeply missed in our industry,” he said.
Hollenback and Gilchrist served together in the leadership of the National Auto Dealers Association.
Hollenback was the Washington representative on the national board for 12 years and encouraged Gilchrist to run for her position when she stepped down in January and Gilchrist took over.
“I just hope I can live up to her leadership. She was a great woman,” Gilchrist said.
On Thursday, Dishman Dodge posted an obituary on its Facebook page.
“She truly cared for her employees and customers, and made every person at the dealership her priority,” the posting said.
Courtney Lee, a sales manager, said that Hollenback knew every employee by name and made a point of attending employee recognition events.
“She was always here, always involved,” Lee said. “She was amazing.”
Born on July 6, 1942, at what was then Deaconess Hospital, Hollenback graduated from Central Valley High School before spending a year studying at Washington State University.
She graduated from the Deaconess School of Nursing in 1964 and became a registered nurse.
She married Dennis Waltermire in 1963. The couple had four children.
She graduated from Whitworth University with a bachelor’s degree in health science in 1985.
Hollenback spent 25 years in nursing in a career that carried her to the jobs of head nurse in pediatrics at Valley Hospital and then director of community programs for Empire Health Systems.
Dishman Dodge was founded by her father, Mark Hollenback, initially at an auto repair business at Trent Avenue and Argonne Road. In 1960, he consolidated his dealership at Sprague Avenue and Park Road.
Her father got her to join the dealership in 1995, initially as general manager.
Marti Hollenback served on numerous community boards over the years, including Red Cross, Children’s Home Society, Spokane Valley Community Center, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery and others, including business organizations.
She was honored numerous times and was a recipient of the Everyday Heart Award from Kiwanis in 2003, according to the obituary.
She is survived by her children, Dee Dee Christian, Mark Waltermire, Matthew Waltermire and Denielle Stuhlmiller; sisters Jean Leach and Cheri Hollenback; and numerous grandchildren.
Services are set for 2 p.m. Thursday at Spokane Valley Baptist Church, 1222 S. McDonald Rd., followed by a reception in the main showroom at Dishman Dodge at 4:30 p.m.
Hazen & Jaeger Valley Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.