Route 66 News

Our Lady of the Highways caretaker dies

Lee William Marten, 64, a co-caretaker of The Shrine of Our Lady of the Highways on Route 66 near Raymond, Ill., died at his home Saturday after a bout with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, according to an obituary in the The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Ill.

Lee and his younger brother Carl, who survives, own the farm where the shrine sits. According to Lee’s son-in-law Peter Stork, the Martens maintained the shrine, organized a 50th-anniversary event in 2009 and erected an information booth there.

Loretta (Marten) Ludek, 74, who was instrumental in founding the shrine in 1959, died in March. Her father, Francis Marten, donated a small piece of land for the statue of the Virgin Mary, made from Italian marble. Total cost of the shrine was $900 at the time. Francis died in 2002.

Except for one year teaching agriculture at a high school in Athens, Ill., Lee Marten was a farmer for all of his adult life. Among the many boards he served, he was a member of the Route 66 Association of Illinois.

A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Raymond’s Catholic Church, with Christian burial at St. Raymond’s Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 until 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Raymond.

Surviving are wife, Mary (DeBarr) Marten; children, Ellen Marten of Springfield, Ill.; Emily (husband Peter) Stork of Crown Point, Ind., and Thomas Marten of Raymond; one granddaughter, Eleanor Stork; a sister Jane (husband Larry) Hockett of Springfield; four brothers, Joe (wife Barbara) Marten and Tony (wife Paulette) Marten, both of Litchfield, Ill.; and Raymond (wife Debbie) Marten and Carl (wife Marlene) Marten, both of Raymond; a sister-in-law, Judy Marten of West Lafayette, Ind.; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to the Panhandle Food Pantry in Raymond or Covenant Network of St. Louis.


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