Nora Martin was born March 31, 1921 in St. Helens. Her father was a logger
and her mother tended a small farm and three children. That simple beginning did not foretell
what would become a very dynamic and productive life. As a young girl she realized
that God had given her a great voice, "so as to make people happy," she wrote. She sang
locally for events, including President Roosevelt at the opening of Timberline Lodge.
One evening she appeared at a local talent contest wearing a buckskin outfit and in
the audience was Stephen M. Janik, a part time talent scout for NBC Radio, Recognizing her
five octave rand and perfect pitch, he signed her to a contract.
A few years later with Stephen as her manager, Nora went off to Hollywood and starred in Western
movies with Gene Autry, John Wayne and other cowboys, She played the dance hall
singer with a heart of gold.
As WWII began, the famous radio star Eddie Cantor signed Nora to a five year
contract to take over for Dinah Shore on his national radio program. During the
war years she sang on the Cantor show from New York, made hundred of appearances before
returning soldiers, at military bases and hospitals. Her touring show was
called "Time to Smile" which is what she brought to the soldiers.
In addition, she made many appearances throughout the country selling war bonds on stage
with Eddie Cantor, Bob hope, John Wayne, Les Paul and her own group, "Pals of the Golden West,"
In on such 24-hour bond sale event, she raised $38 million. In 1946 she was awarded a
citation for her service by the U.S. War Department.
As the war wound down Nora and Stephen wanted to return to Portland and did so after
E -E Day and V - J Day. They moved into Laurelhurst and joined All Saints Parish and school.
They had two sons, Stephen T. in 1947 and Robert M. in 1949.
Nora was a devoted mother
and wife and Hollywood was in the distant past. The symbols of that life were left in
the attic, except for the time she sang with Frank Sinatra to raise money for the
Portland Police Assistance League and for other charities.
As her sons went off to school, Nora was involved in many church, OTA and community serviced
activities, the beginning of a growing scope of community involvement.
Nora faced a challenge in 1960 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer that required
radical treatment. She overcame that challenge and took the experience as a direction from
God to help others similarly challenged. She joined the American Cancer Society (ACS)
and went public with her story about cancer, which was not common in those days. She became
the first woman to be President of the Oregon Division of the ACS in the early
'70s she developed the "Reach to Recovery Program" to help women to recover from
breast cancer surgeries; established an early detection center at Good Samaritan Hospital,
one of only seven in the nation; and in 1977 represented Oregon at the
National Human Values and Cancer Conference.
Finally, she established ACS thrift shops, not only to raise money but also to
offer education. Nora received the "Order of the Red Sword," which is the ACS National
In addition to her ACS work, during the decades after her own recovery, she was an
officer of the YWCA, chaired the women's division of the National Conference of
Christians and Jews, was an officer of the Assistance League, taught catechism to deaf
children for several years, helped develop the Providence Nursery for severely impaired
children, served as President of Holy Name Auxiliary, and was a member of the
West Hills Symphony Auxiliary. In her later years she was a very active member of
the International Chapter P.E.O. Sisterhood that provides college scholarships to
women in need.
As a doting mother she took great joy in the accomplioshemts of her family, including attending four
The following two awards bracket her decades of work for the community. In 1963 the Oregon
Journal named Nora as one of the first 10 "Women of Accomplishments" and 32 years later,
in 1995, Nora was named one of six women awarded the "White Rose,"
saluting Women of Achievement.
In her last decade Nora had to deal with numerous medical and mobility issuers. She never
complained and always had a bright spirit. She was buoyed by her countless friends, Her
door was always open and usually a friend would be there visiting, talking about current
events and families and not dwelling the past. She had hoped to make 95 years,
but 92 and 10 months was a great run.
In one of her last journal entries she wrote, "The joy of giving is truly the joy
of living," "Life is about friends--everyday angels."
Nora's husband Stephen M. Janik predeceased her Feb 14, 1979. Nora is survived by
her sons, Stephen T. Janik and Robert M. Janik, five grandchildren, Matthew, Michelle, Aimee, Jacqueline
and Thomas; and 13 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to her special charity:
c/0 George Jo Aas, Chapter A Treasurer,
6067 Claremont Court
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035
Private interment at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. An Irish Wake will be held at 4p.m.,
Wednesday Feb 23, 2014 at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
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