Ezra Martin Celebrates 103rd Birthday
Ezra Mason Martin celebrated his 103rd birthday on August 30, 2017, in McLemoresville, Tennessee. He spent the celebration going out to eat, and spending the day in his home with family.
Though he spent 100 years of his life in Carroll County, he was born in Gibson County, Tennessee. He was the first of eight children, all of whom learned to sing and play at least one instrument as children and continued that expression of their faith and social life throughout their lives. Holidays and family reunions left lasting memories of love, laughter, and song!
Ezra was born to Seth Thomas Martin, a sharecropper and day laborer, and Millie Hays Martin, a homemaker and avid gardener (of food and flowers). Ezra became the Martin patriarch early in his life after the early death of his father, leaving a widow and eight children to rear.
Ezra began school in Gibson County for the first two years, until the family moved to Carroll County, where he attended Biggart School, a one-room school where he finished eighth grade. With no buses, walking was the mode of transportation no matter the weather. Ezra is filled with one-room school stories that will make you laugh until you cry. A mentor to many, he speaks with pride that his niece, a retired dean of education, was actively involved in preserving a one-room school in Georgia, and co-authored a book chapter on the impact of one-room schools nationally and internationally.
Determined to attain education further than anyone in his family, Ezra finished high school in McLemoresville. Again, without graveled roads, foot-power moved this passionate learner toward further degrees.
After high school, Ezra attended Bethel College, where he earned a degree while teaching in several one-room schools in Carroll County.
He met Jewell Newman at high school in McLemoresville. They married and she quit school and never finished. Ezra held many jobs in his career: teacher, principal, band director (taught himself to read music), food services manager, janitor and, in his words, “whatever it took to keep the best school for the students.”
As a life-long learner, he continued his education both formally and informally. Even after retirement Mr. Martin took courses toward a doctorate at Murray State University. In addition, he traveled to places he had studied in the classes he taught. He made several educational trips throughout Europe and spent many hours in study and travel to trace the Martin family tree back to Scotland and Ireland. His niece has resumed that research, study and travel in Scotland and Ireland. Ezra attributes the Martins’ love of and special talent for music, to his heritage—“from our Gaelic ancestors.”
Ezra recounts with pride many successes of the students whom he taught and/or led to Eagle Scout via his many years of leadership in the Boy Scouts of America. His students include international teachers, an engineer at Ford Motor Company in Detroit and dozens and dozens who have completed college and are both socially and financially successful. His passion for education is evident in those he taught.
The Martin family is filled with teachers and preachers— educators at all levels: teachers, principals, superintendents of schools, deans, university professors, nurses, etc. He believes the Martin cultural value of education and religion is a result of the strict work ethic and religious upbringing “expected, no demanded” by his mother, Millie. Of all his accomplishments, Mr. Martin is most staunch about his faith.
We, as members of this big Martin clan, are blessed to have had Ezra Martin to be the patriarch and to learn from this Godly man who blesses each and every meal and always looks for, and expects, the best from everyone—including himself.
Happy Birthday Uncle Ezra — and MANY more!