Obit Saarheim 031117

Marta Saarheim

Astoria Oct. 1, 1923 — Feb. 22, 2017

Marta Saarheim, 93, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, at Clatsop Care.

Marta was born in Astoria on Oct. 1, 1923, to Dr. Janfred and Martha Parpala. She was the youngest of three siblings, John Parpala (deceased), and Majel Filby, (deceased.) Marta, nicknamed Nuppi (“Rosebud”) by her father, attended Astoria High School where her best friend, Barbara Thorsness, eventually married Marta’s brother, John.

Marta graduated from Emanuel Hospital School of Nursing in Portland in 1944, and joined the Army Nurse Corps as a second lieutenant during World War II, serving at Fort Ord, California, and Fort Fitzsimons, Colorado, until 1946. She then returned to Astoria, where she worked as a charge nurse at Columbia Hospital for many years.

She married Norman Saarheim in 1948, and had four children. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Judi Miller, in 2011; and husband, Norman, in 2010, after 64 years of marriage.

She is survived by her children, Jon (Darlene) Saarheim, Nancy Saarheim Ceaser and Mike (Amie) Saarheim; 11 grandchildren, Joe, Olivia, Rudy, K’Dee, Luke, Majel, Nick, Lindsay, Josh, Sophie and Lucas; and nine great-grandchildren.

Marta lived an adventurous life, moving with her young family to Fiji in 1955, where she and Norman invested in a hardwood sawmill venture near Korolevu, on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu, the largest of the Fiji Islands. After five years of island life, they returned to Astoria. In the early 1960s, Marta and her family began spending the next 45 summers set netting for salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska, where Norman had homesteaded several fishing sites on Flounder Flats near Ekuk. Marta relished the time with family and her fishing crew of young people, which included many family friends, her children and eventually grandchildren. Together, with Marta at the helm, they tended the nets, harvested sockeye salmon while “camping” in small cabins on the remote beach. During the off season, she worked in the infirmary at Tongue Point Job Corps Center as intake nurse for 34 years, retiring in 2004 at age 79. Marta was active, loved playing bridge and games, and was an avid sports fan. She would often be seen watching the Portland Trail Blazers play on TV while listening to a second game on her transistor. She enjoyed exercising and swimming with friends. As a longtime active member of Peace Lutheran Church, she participated wherever she could, and especially enjoyed helping with the Loaves and Fishes program.

The Saarheim family would like to acknowledge the kind and dedicated staff at Clatsop Care Center and the wonderful care Marta received.

A memorial service will take place at Peace Lutheran Church in Astoria on Saturday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m.

An online guest book may be signed at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email