Chapel Hill - Norma Jean White Martin, born October 22, 1936 in Lexington, Kentucky, was the second of five children born to the late Pauline Williams White and Joseph Robert White.
Growing up in Lexington, she recalled a happy childhood, fondly remembering her large family and extended family, and the important part that Victory Christian Church played in her upbringing. She attended Transylvania University on scholarship, where she joined the Phi Mu Sorority, worked at the local newspaper, was on the Dean’s List, and participated in numerous beauty pageants. Jean met her future husband, Jack W. Martin, at one such event and they later married August of 1957. Ever the consummate homemaker, which included being an outstanding cook and social organizer, she was able to balance raising two children, eight moves for her husband’s career, along with countless community and school volunteer positions.
She and Jack retired in Kure Beach, North Carolina, where she again opened her heart for helping those less fortunate than herself, and quietly committed herself to those endeavors in her community. Following a passion of hers to keep “mature” adults healthy, she obtained certification, and began a new career teaching water and land exercise classes with unrelenting enthusiasm. Jean received numerous awards and accolades for her community service throughout her life. She and Jack also spent much time during the summers in the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada, building a family home and legacy for their grandchildren. This endeavor combined her love of family and nature in a most beautiful setting. Though she stopped attending a formal church later in life, her faith became even stronger, as her body weakened, and did not fear a final resting place with her husband in heaven.
In addition to her parents. Jean was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Jack Watson Martin; sister, Anna Ruth Bloemer; and her brother, Joe Franklin White,
Those who mourn her loss include her children, Tracy Martin DeSelm, and her husband, Richard, John Gregory Martin and his wife, Anne; grandchildren, Grant Lowell DeSelm, John Matthew Martin, Claire Martin DeSelm, and Emily Anne Martin, and her sisters, Nancy White Kesten, Mary Ellen Lynch, and her husband Tom. Jean/Nana/Mom will be remembered as a gracious, thoughtful, well-read, fiercely independent, nature-loving, generous individual with a charismatic smile and positive attitude in life, that left an indelible impact on those lives that she touched. She will be missed dearly by her friends and family. Rest in Peace.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 11:00am in the Chapel of Walker's Funeral Home, 120 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill.
Please direct memorials to the following charities, which were important to Jean, The Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8517, www.woundedwarriorproject.org.