Veteran weather radar specialist, skilled softball player and talented mandolin player Anthony “Tony” Martini has died following stroke complications.
Martini, 78, died Feb. 26.
Martini, who worked for the National Weather Service for 33 years, was a reliable, affable presence in the Sacramento office, colleagues said. He always had time to help a reporter who needed the latest weather explained or to spin a funny story to a co-worker in between weather fronts.
Doug Swann worked with Martini for about 13 years at the National Weather Service office in Sacramento.
“His zest for life and his easygoing manner were uplifting,” Swann said.
Retired weather service meteorologist Ron Lam recalled the late radar specialist’s humorous side. Martini’s funny stories could brighten the office on a cloudy day.
“I had the pleasure of getting to know Tony when I was a student at UC Davis majoring in atmospheric science,” Lam said. “I had taken a volunteer internship position at the National Weather Service office in Sacramento back in the summer of 1987.”
As a weather radar specialist, Martini provided Lam with valuable experience related to radar observation.
“He was such a highly respected weather service radar operator that he was invited back to the office after his retirement to take the final radar observation from the old WSR-57 weather radar,” Lam said. “It was on the day that we officially switched to the next generation of Doppler weather radar system back in 1995.”
Martini was born March 24, 1938, to Italian immigrants in Ironwood, Mich. The vestiges of his upper Midwest accent lingered long into adulthood despite decades of living in California.
He left home after joining the Air Force, attending weather observer school in Illinois, where he learned the science of forecasting. During his military career, he served for a time in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
After military service, he began his long career with the weather service. His daughter Gina recalled that her father excelled in science, writing, math and geography. Martini, a statistics wizard, would periodically undertake the painstaking task of updating the local office’s weather bible, the 80-page “Climate of Sacramento, California.”
In the age before the internet, the weather service publication was vital to the public, news reporters and forecasters. It lists weather records relating to fog, heat, cold, wind, rain and even snowfall for Sacramento.
Until he had his first stroke in 2014, the retired radar specialist would sit down every morning and draw a weather map. Using data from the computer, he would sketch out an approaching storm or heat wave.
“Several years ago, my husband and I were driving down south and my father told me exactly when I needed to be over the Grapevine,” said Gina Martini. “He also told us when to return from Las Vegas before another storm came in.”
Martini joined the Golden Seniors Softball League at age 50 and enjoyed playing for many years with friends. He was also an avid jazz guitarist and played Italian music on his mandolin.
“He was an awesome father,” said Gina Martini. “He was the best teacher I ever had. He encouraged me to write. My interest in history and politics stems from him.”
In addition to his daughter, Martini is survived by his wife of 54 years, Kathryn Martini; his son, Vincent Martini; and three grandsons.
A rosary will be said at 10:30 a.m. Monday, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. John Evangelist Church, 5751 Locust Ave., Carmichael.