Eighty years ago today, April 18, 1941, a red-headed baby boy, Martell Vance Gunter, was born in Pocatello to Zeb Vance and Rebecca Capell Gunter. As a young boy, Martell exhibited courage and diligence as he endured and recovered from three separate serious bouts of rheumatic fever, the last during fourth grade at McCammon Elementary.
Martell began his work experience at about the age of 10 when he delivered three paper routes as a substitute for a neighbor. Eventually, he acquired two routes of his own, the Idaho State Journal and the Salt Lake Tribune. In addition to his paper routes, he also began mowing the lawn and sweeping the floor of the local newspaper plant across the street from the Gunter home, The McCammon News. When winter came he filled the stoker of the news office furnace and removed clinkers. During his freshman year at Marsh Valley High School, Ed Payson, owner of the newspaper, offered Martell an opportunity to learn the printing trade. And thus began his lifetime vocation.
After high school graduation in 1959, Gunter attended the print school at what was then known as the vocational — technical school at Idaho State College. After completing his training there, he spent the summer of 1961 working for the Alaska Game and Fish as a stream guard on Kodiak Island.
In January of 1962, Martell married Jill Rowe in the Logan Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple. The newlyweds began their marriage in Lander, Wyoming where Gunter was employed at the Wyoming State Journal. The Gunters returned to Idaho, where he continued employment in the printing business. He received journeyman status in 1964, and in 1966 began his 37-year career at the Idaho State Journal.
At that time the Journal was still being produced with the hot metal process via linotype machines. The advance of technology soon relegated the linotype to the status of the dinosaurs, and the new innovative process of offset printing took over. Gunter retrained seven times during his career to stay on top of technology advancements.
The last two years before his retirement in 2003, he transferred to the Journal’s new publishing plant, Bear River Publishing, near Preston. There he trained on a new state-of-the-art, computer run printing press, imported from Belgium. This particular printing press was the newest innovative press available to the printing trade and was the first of its kind to be used in the United States.
Gunter has always had a love of the outdoors, especially mountain country, and what started at first as a hobby, fur trapping, eventually turned into a side-line business for Martell as a licensed fur buyer. Hunting is second nature to him, and he has explored the sport through many areas in Idaho and also enjoyed hunts in Utah, Wyoming, Alaska and Quebec, Canada.
A lifelong member of the LDS church, he has held numerous positions and callings, including bishop of the McCammon Ward and 20 years later, as president of the McCammon Stake. He has also spent countless pack trips with groups of young men, his sons and even grandchildren.
His civic involvement includes many years on the Marsh Valley Rodeo Committee, vice president of the McCammon Little League, and he served 17 years on the McCammon City Council, plus 12 as mayor.
With all his accomplishments, one stands out as no. 1 to Martell, and that is his family and love for each of them. The Gunters have four sons, Ralph, Scott, Matthew and Russell. As the boys married, the Gunter family acquired precious daughters-in-law, and his love expanded to each of them: Valerie Price, Elanie Ottensen, Erika Babb, Natalie Hall (deceased) and Hallie Telford. Eighteen grandchildren, plus nine spouses of those who are married and 14 little “greats” complete the family today.
The Gunter family will gather together at home today and celebrate this milestone birthday for their dad and grandpa.