Betty Lyndall (Williford) Martin passed away April 15 in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. She was sleeping peacefully when she passed into the arms of her Lord. With visitation severely restricted by the pandemic, it is a blessing that her children could visit earlier that day and express their love for her.
She was born in Knoxville in 1930 during the Great Depression to Marwen and Elna Williford but grew up and lived most of her life in west Tennessee. She was a 1949 graduate of Medina High School in a class of twelve. Shortly after graduation she entered West Tennessee Business College where she gained skills that earned her employment at the then new Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. With the exception of a few short breaks in service, she spent most of the next 45 years working in the hospital's dietary services unit. At the beginning of her employment in 1950, the first patient had not yet been admitted. Upon her retirement, the hospital had several hundred beds and was the largest employer in Jackson.
She is preceded in death by her parents, husband James Ray Martin, and son Kenneth Taylor. She is survived by her sister Marie Blackwell of Jackson, two children - son Edward Taylor (Carol) of Knoxville and daughter Gail Wojcik (Jim) of Crossville, four grandchildren - John and Casey Swafford of Crossville as well as Bethany and Stephanie Taylor of Chattanooga, two great-grandchildren - Amelia and Adelyn Chung of Knoxville, and many other extended family members.
The world is a better place for all the kindness she gave during her 89 years. All who knew her noted her sweet spirit and selflessness. Her eldest son always said that she rivaled Mother Teresa in kindness and compassion. Her everyday actions exemplified the giving of one's self in service to others. Her language of love was simple servitude.
She was happiest when caring for others. A true nurturer, it was important to her that no one be hungry. Though not fond of cooking, she spent countless hours preparing meals for family. Before her health declined, she loved to attend First Baptist Church of Jackson where she participated in outreach ministries such as making sandwiches for the hospital's visitors lounge and passing out Halloween treats at the church's annual Trunk-or-Treat. In recent years, no longer able to perform physical acts of service as her body weakened, she frequently presented her visitors and caregivers with small gifts.
Learning homemaking skills from a fastidious mother, she enjoyed ironing and cleaning for the feelings of satisfaction they provided. Her nurturing side wanted clean well-pressed clothing and a spotless house for her family. Bringing grass clippings into the house (or even worse - mud) on your shoes was sure to draw an admonition. She believed, as John Wesley shared in a sermon, "cleanliness is next to godliness." Since heaven certainly must be the cleanest place imaginable, she will be quite happy there. We rejoice in the fact that she will no longer be burdened with the physical and mental infirmities that plagued her final years. Her sweet spirit, now unburdened, will almost certainly find someone who needs a helping hand to get their heavenly home dusted, floors swept, and the kitchen mopped.
There is no funeral planned because of the coronavirus. When it is safe to gather, there will be a memorial service in Jackson, TN. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to either of her two favorite causes - the American Diabetes Association or St. Jude Children's Hospital.
Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Martin family and invites you to view and sign the online registry.
Ed, your Mother was one of the sweetest people I have known. It has been such a blessing to me to have shared a part of her life. My heart aches and grieves for you. I am just remembering ALL the good times we shared together. Peace and comfort to you and the family. Love , VickieWilliford
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