Shirley Martinez

Beverly Winthrow, Cynthia Winthrow, Shirley Jones (Stone) Martinez, Lisa Wnthrow, four sisters that were able to meet for the first time this week.

Shirley Jones Stone Martinez, or Stone, as many know her, has a unique and yes, miraculous, story to tell. Her story begins when she was three months old, at which time, she was given up for adoption by her birth mother. From that point on, she was raised as the only child of Glen and Barbara Stone on the Nez Perce reservation in Washington.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a terribly happy life for her. She was often told, “You’re not a true Stone – you were bought into this family.” This made her feel like she really wasn’t a Stone and gave her reason to wonder.

When she was 24 years old, she “snuck” into her parents’ safety deposit box and there found an original birth certificate indicating Lynette Blaine as her biological mother and Douglas Withrow as her biological father. At that time, it was possible to pick up a telephone and dial “0” for an operator, and that is what she did. The information she got was that Lynette lived in Naches, Washington. So, she dialed the operator again and asked for all of the Blaines in Naches, Washington. She was given three numbers. After calling the first number to no avail, the second number produced a person who said she was Lynette’s niece. That person gave her Lynette’s phone number, and Stone was finally able to call and speak with her biological mother for the very first time.

When Lynette answered, Stone told her she was not going to give her name, but that she was born on April 28, 1996. Lynette knew just who she was, and they began talking. At first, Lynette did not tell the rest of the family about Stone, but it wasn’t long before she did and a large reunion was organized, which Stone attended.

Stone actually visited her mother four or five times, but Lynette would never say anything about her father, Doug. Finally, about three months ago, Stone did an Ancestry DNA test and found out that a woman named Betty Withrow is her aunt. She e-mailed this Betty Withrow, who e-mailed her back the next day confirming that she has an extended family with three sisters, Beverly, Cynthia, and Lisa, and one brother, Tommy. All of these were Doug’s biological children. They were raised by Doug alone after he divorced their mother.

This news came as quite a shock to the brother and sisters as well. They had no idea they had a half-sister out there in the world. When Tommy texted Lisa that a “girl named Shirley called and said she’s Doug’s daughter,” she was confused. He texted Lisa her number and she called Stone, or Shirley as the sisters call her. According to Lisa, once she heard Shirley’s story, it seemed familiar to her, one that she heard pieces of growing up. They had never been told about Shirley, Lisa had heard a story of her father dating another woman and loving another woman. She also said that with Betty being Stone’s aunt, Shirley had to belong to one of the Withrow boys. So, Lisa also did the DNA test. None of the siblings had been on ancestry before, so they knew if anything showed up, it would be conclusive. Lisa showed up as a match. According to her, “That’s when it had to be Doug, because the DNA doesn’t lie.”

That’s when the excitement set in. Lisa said, “It’s like it gave them a present.” Tommy has texted Stone from the time he found out she is his sister. The sisters drove down from Yakima, Washington, to be with Stone for two days this past week. They packed as much fun as they could into those days doing everything from going to “jail” at the Butch Cassidy Museum; visiting the Trail Center; going to the Ranch Hand for breakfast, Bear Lake, and Lava Hot Springs; having a momentous birthday/Christmas party at Stone’s house, as well as a barbecue and a corn cob eating contest, which Stone won.

The sisters feel bad that Stone didn’t get to meet her dad. Lisa said he had polio which paralyzed his right side and a bad limp and fingers that were stuck in one spot, but he always put a roof over a few people’s head at once. According to her he was “an awesome dad.”

All of their texts, phone calls, and in-person time have been full of memories, catching up, information, and new feelings. Whether she goes by Stone or Shirley, it is definitely a miracle that has happened in her life.

For any of you who don’t know Stone, she has worked at Todd Hunzeker’s “Can Do Auto” in Montpelier for 2 ½ years. As noted above, she was raised on the Nez Perce reservation. In 2007, she moved to Hamilton, Montana; after which, she moved to Soda Springs in 2016. In 2017, she married Onofre Martinez and moved to Montpelier. Her goal is to move back to Hamilton where she still has a home. She has three children; Lisa, lives in Montpelier, Wheeler lives in Boise, and Joshua lives in North Dakota.

Valerie Hayes

The News Examiner