Stefan E. Martin, a former English teacher and linguistics scholar who was also skilled at fixing cars, renovating houses and working with computers, died Aug. 6 at his Dublin, Calif., home of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. He was 53.
Born and raised in Baltimore, he was the eldest of nine children. His father worked as a longshoreman at the port of Baltimore.
Dr. Martin lived in Baltimore until 2000, when he and his wife of 10 years, Jeannine Broadwell, moved to Northern California.
He was working at the time of his death as a computer systems administrator with Netflix in Los Gatos, Calif.
Dr. Martin earned a bachelor's degree in English from West Virginia University in 1975 and a master's degree from the University of Chicago a year later. He received a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1992.
He taught English at Randallstown High School in Baltimore from 1976 to 1985 and briefly at the private Park Heights Street Academy. From 1986 until 1991, he served as writing coordinator at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
C. William Edinger, an English professor at UMBC, said that Dr. Martin became one of his closest friends and that they often went hiking and backpacking in West Virginia. He said Dr. Martin loved nature and did a lot of hiking and "had a wonderful feeling for the physical world, the world of nature."
He described his friend as a "quick study" and great problem-solver.
"I have never ceased to marvel at Stefan's omnicompetence and versatility," he said. "There are people who are intelligent in one way or another, but he was intelligent in more ways than you could count. It made him a very interesting person to be around."
Another longtime friend, Kenneth W. Sanner, who taught with Dr. Martin at Randallstown, described him as a "very rare individual with a keen intellect" who was modest about his achievements.
The two lived near each other and would ride to the school in Mr. Sanner's sporty MGB -- which Dr. Martin would help get running when it broke down, Mr. Sanner said.
"He liked to tinker with his cars," Mr. Sanner said. "He had a keen interest in steam engines, trains and steamboats. He knew how to do a lot of things."
Ms. Broadwell said her husband embraced life.
"When we were out hiking, he was always out in front," she said. "He had really long legs and a large energy level, and was always eager to see what was up ahead."
Dr. Martin ended his career in teaching in the late 1990s, becoming a software engineer and system administrator for the John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Howard County. During his career, Dr. Martin wrote several articles on education and the study of language for scholarly publications and for newspapers, including The Sun.
Memorial services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Evans Funeral Chapel at Harford Road and Putty Hill Avenue in Parkville.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his mother, Dorothy Martin, of Baltimore; three brothers, Dwayne Martin and Kevin Martin, both of Baltimore, and Brian Martynowicz of White Hall; and three sisters, Melinda Coleman of Street, Felicia Martin of Parkville and Denise St. John of Oklahoma City. A previous marriage to Susanna Craine of Baltimore ended in divorce.