Martin William Sternlicht, Marty to his friends, died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of December 6, 2023, at his home at Carolina Highlands in Fayetteville. Marty Sternlicht was born in the Bronx, New York, on December 14, 1931, to Albert Aaron and Sophia Shapero Sternlicht, joining elder sister Evelyn. The family moved when Marty was six to Laurelton, Queens, and Marty graduated from Far Rockaway High School on nearby Long Island. While a student at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (Class of 1953), he met Gail Siskind from Forest Hills, Queens, then a college student in Manhattan, on a double date (with other people). Marty and Gail became engaged in October 1953 and were married that January 1954 when Marty graduated from Officer Candidate School. While he served as a Lt. JG in the US Navy Supply Corps, sailing to Cuba and other (then) exotic locations, Marty and Gail were joined by Mark and Robert. They lived in Athens, Georgia, Portsmouth, Virginia, and Boston, Massachusetts with the Navy. Once out of the Navy, Marty worked for a defense contractor and then, as he put it, moved into “soft goods,” going to work for Maidenform. John completed the family, who were then in New Jersey, and another job opportunity in textiles took them shortly thereafter to Barrington, Rhode Island. In 1964 the young family moved to Fayetteville when Marty took a job as the General Manager of Fayetteville Manufacturing Company, which made curtains and bedspreads. That turned out to be the final move as Marty and Gail and sons settled in to life in Fayetteville. They joined Beth Israel Congregation, and in 1972 Marty joined Kiwanis, in which he celebrated his 50th Anniversary in 2022. Those were two of his countless long-term community activites, including also United Way, Cumberland Community Foundation, and others with which he was generous with his time, talent, and treasure.
In 1977, thanks to his own foresight about the textile industry and the influence of close friend Brownie Schaefer, Marty left the textile industry and joined Equitable Life. He enjoyed a lengthy and successful career there as well and provided valuable, caring service to his clients. Gail also had changed careers and became a computer expert. She started Cumberland County’s IT department, which she ran until her untimely death in July 1988. They were married nearly 35 years and thankfully had the opportunity to enjoy travel and the empty nest together for several years. In 1989, Marty met Anne Barnes Mitchell, who owned Major Travel Corporation. They married in December 1990. Marty and Anne also traveled a great deal, both with Anne’s groups and on their own, and led an active community and social life. They enjoyed 32 years of marriage until Anne’s death in February 2023. Marty commented then, in spite of the pain of burying two wives, how grateful he was to have been happily married to two such successful women. Marty was a devoted grandpa (nicknamed “Beepa”) and rarely missed a football game, birthday, or event. He was a wonderful, generous example of a supportive father and doting, caring, involved grandparent.
Nothing was more important to Marty than family, and there was always more room at the table. In the 1990s, he reinstituted the annual Sternlicht Family Reunions, a continuation of the monthly Sternlicht Family Meetings that used to take place when everyone lived in New York. It was Marty’s generation that scattered to various spots around the country, but the cousins resumed meeting annually hosted on a rotation until the pandemic. Marty was predeceased by his parents and sister, Evelyn Kearney, as well as Gail and Anne. He is survived by his and Gail’s three sons, Mark and wife Robbie of Fayetteville, Robert and husband Tony Abrahano of Long Beach, CA, and John and husband James Finley of Anacortes, WA; three grandsons, Matthew of Fayetteville, David and wife Naama of Oakland, CA, and Jeremy of Bellingham, WA; a great-granddaughter, Mia Adele of Oakland, CA; and four nieces and four nephews, and three cousins. Marty also formed relationships with family by marriage, starting with Gail’s Siskind and Croog family, and then Anne’s daughter Vicki Cole of Puerto Escondido, MX and son Max, his wife Kendra and their sons Max III and Spencer of Huntsville, AL, as well as Robbie’s daughter and granddaughter Brandi and Alison, the entire Abrahano clan, James’s son Carlton and wife Yue, and David and Jeremy’s mother, Ann Battle Macheras and her family. Marty was funny, kind, generous, caring -- one of those rare people whom everyone loved. He had infinite capacity for connection and positivity and will also be missed by other surviving extended family and countless friends. Marty had dealt with congestive heart failure and other challenges with determination, humor, optimism, and grit for the last dozen years, but still had an active social life and played what he called “geezer tennis” until the pandemic began. He lived a full life and especially near the end always expressed his gratitude for his good fortune in every way. The family expresses their gratitude for the compassionate caregivers of Home Instead and Bayada Hospice who took such wonderful care of Marty in his last months. They too came to love him as everyone else who knew him.
Funeral services will be held Sunday, December 10 at 1:00 p.m. at Beth Israel Synagogue at 2204 Morganton Road in Fayetteville with burial immediately following in the Beth Israel Cemetery (corner of Gale and Ann Streets – same names, different spellings). Donations (please omit flowers) may be made in Marty’s memory to Beth Israel Congregation, the Cumberland Community Foundation, and the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville.