Marti Anthony was born and raised in San Diego, CA. She was married and had five children. After 28 years of marriage to her husband, Marti decided to live her truth and let the world know she was a lesbian woman. She moved to Washington and met Evelyn Marie. They fell in love and spent 25 happy years together until Evelyn passed away from frontotemporal dementia in January of 2020. Marti participates in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in her wife’s honor.
Evelyn was a military veteran, joining the U.S. Army in September 1970 and serving until 1980, when she was honorably discharged as a Specialist Six, Sergeant First Class. She then enlisted in the Washington State Army National Guard, served another 10 years and was honorably discharged in 1990.
During her 20 years of military service, Evelyn trained as a Clinical Specialist/Medical Corpsman/LPN, serving during the Vietnam War in the beginning of her military career. Evelyn was awarded a National Defense Service Medal, two Good Conduct Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, Washington Army Commendation Medal and Recognition of Honorable Service as a Retired Reserves Staff Sergeant First Class, as well as an additional certificate of appreciation. “It meant a great deal to Evelyn to serve her country,” said Marti.
Marti and Evelyn were inseparable. “I met Evelyn Marie after finishing my degree at Washington State University. I was a paratransit driver. She worked in oncology as a nurse in Bremerton,” Marti said. The two were married Sept. 25, 2014 at the Jefferson County courthouse by their friend, Judge Jill Landis, and with many other friends in attendance.
“We were pretty much always together. When we weren’t working we were taking trips. We loved to go down to California and visit the kids; she was very much accepted into the family.” Marti and Evelyn loved going to Mariners and Seahawks games together whenever possible.
“She was my companion all the time after her retirement. She retired at about 63 and she started showing evidence of something going on in 2016,” said Marti. Evelyn not only began showing signs of dementia, but also signs of physiological issues as well.
“We just kept going to neurologists, did all the testings and everything we could to try and figure it out. She wasn’t all that worried about it. She was not the worry-wart, I am. I was pushing for it,” said Marti. Evelyn was eventually diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.
Marti became Evelyn’s full-time caregiver. Evelyn stayed at home with Marti for most of her dementia journey. At the end of her life, she spent three weeks in hospice before passing away.
“Being a caregiver was hard. I was losing her before she was gone. For about a year and a half things were really bad. She was my main person, that was my job. When she started having seizures it got hard for both of us. We called the aid car a few times,” said Marti.
“At one time, I had to call an ambulance for myself. I was falling apart at one point, and that’s what caregiving can do. I’m not making any excuses. I was having panic attacks,” she said.
Marti would like to stress to other dementia caregivers the importance of finding a community or a support group to stay social and have a support network. “I felt guilty, but I had a good counselor and a lot of support. I had a great support group that I would attend. I really am thankful for my community.”
Marti is a member of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s planning committee for the North Olympic Peninsula Walk to End Alzheimer’s, as well as a Walk team captain. She had a history of volunteering for many different organizations but had to drop most of it as she became a caregiver for Evelyn. Now, she is back at it. “I feel like that’s the place for me now,” Marti said.
Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease. Click here to find a Walk near you.