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James L. Martel


On Wednesday morning, September 28, 2022, Jim was reunited with his late wife, Barbara Ann (Sklarz), to continue their dance that started over 68 years ago. Jim was a lifelong Ipswich resident, born on December 10, 1938, the son of the late Arthur R. and Irene (Blanchard) Martel.

He was a gentle soul who cherished family and had a firm understanding of what was important - the simplicity of living a life with, and for, those you love. His friends and family knew him fondly as “Gentleman Jim” and “Coach;” a kind and thoughtful mentor, who was the best listener, the best coffee date, and the perfect example of how to love unselfishly. Although suffering from Parkinson’s, Jim was known for his ability to recall and share age-old memories with stunning detail. 

He spent his life servicing and befriending local residents through his Martel’s Automotive repair shop and gas stations all across town.  Jim also taught popular auto repair classes through the Town of Ipswich Adult Education program.

Jim had a celebrated 5-decade career as a champion racecar driver (#14), winning races across Eastern and Midwestern U.S. and Canada. He served as Vice President of the International SuperModified Association and was inducted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2014. After retiring from auto racing, he continued to preserve history by restoring racecars and was a member of the Board of Directors for the New England Racing Museum. 

Throughout his life, Jim was a distinguished Ipswich Hockey and Softball coach. Jim was a co-founder and President of the Ipswich Youth Hockey program. He also proudly led the Ipswich High School Varsity Hockey team to the state finals at the Boston Garden. He took extreme pride in the extended family he created over the years by shaping young minds, many of whom lovingly refer to him as being a “second father.”

Of all the people he touched, his most proud achievement in life was marrying his lifelong love Barbara Ann Sklarz who supported him in all his glory during his heyday, and whom he passionately supported during her last days. 

Along with his wife, Jim will now join his late son, Keith A. Martel; and Arthur R. Martel, Jr., his brother. Jim is survived by his children, Cheryl (Chuck) Handley, Marci (Rande) Wile, Lori Martel, J. Scott (Kathy) Martel; grandchildren, Amanda Riddle, Colby (Ashley) Gorniewicz, Cassie (Patrick) Cameron, Ashley (Katie) Roes, Caila Gorniewicz, Paige Proctor, Jaime Martel, Brooke Martel; great-grandchildren, Zoe Clarke, Blake Roes, Nolan James Gorniewicz, Emmet Roes; sister, Linda Mueller; many nieces and nephews; and beloved pet companions, Lucy and Beau.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday October 3 at 10am in Our Lady of Hope Church, 1 Pineswamp Road, Ipswich. Interment will follow in the Highland Cemetery, Ipswich. Family and friends are respectfully welcomed. Visiting hours are 4 to 7pm on Sunday, October 2 in the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home, 6 High Street, Ipswich. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in his name may be made to New England Racing Museum 922 NH-106, Loudon, NH 03307 or Care Dimensions 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923.  

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