Friday, October 9, 2015
The love and legacy of Hazel Belle Martin's life can be explained by three numbers: 12 children, 29 grandchildren and 55 great-grandchildren.
On Saturday, Oct. 10, many of those family members and an assortment of friends will gather in Grove to mark Martin's 100th birthday.
The afternoon celebration is designed to honor the Grove resident as she enters the next century of her lifetime.
Born in Hamlin, Texas, Martin grew up in McAlester, Oklahoma. She later moved to northern Arkansas, living in Prairie Grove and Greenland.
Her family tells the story about how Martin, who was in the eighth grade at the time, would play tag with the boys in the one room school.
Martin would regal her daughters with the story on how one day she avoided getting tagged by a boy at recess by ducking out a side door.
"I got a head start on him," Martin recalled. "I ran and put three barbed wire fences and a pond in between us."
As a student in Greenland, Martin was a member of a prize-winning basketball team. The young women earned an invitation to the state competition, but in those tough economic times, school officials did not have enough finances to send the team.
Martin and her husband, Arthur married in 1933, when they were each 18. The couple had their first child a year later. Eleven more children followed. They include Janelle Martin Hestand, and Kay Martin Spence, both of Grove, and Martin Alden Martin, Gary Neal Martin, Zahn Michael Martin, Stephen Spencer Martin, Janeen Martin Spuler, Jackie Martin Cardone, Joan Martin Dixon and Patti Martin Techanchuk, as well as the late John Edward Martin and Quinton Arthur Martin.
The Martins lived in northwest Arkansas for years before moving to Jenks in the mid 1970s.
In 1995 the Martins moved to Grove and bought a home on a bluff of Grand Lake in the Honey Creek area. They were married for 65 years. Arthur Martin died in 1999.
Martin said she learned numerous lessons in life, including to "forget the things that hurt," and to "thank the Lord for my family."
She said she also reminds her children and grandchildren to remember that God is the maker of the whole world.
"Faith has been [part] of my life even before I went to school," Martin said.
She also credits her longevity to not smoking and refraining from drinking alcohol.
"I looked and tried to do the right thing," Martin said.
She also jokes that her habit of eating an egg every morning may have helped her reach 100 as well.
Martin also credits her time outdoors for extending her life. She enjoys gardening and has extensive flower beds in her yard.
Throughout the years, Martin has kept busy as a seamstress. When the family lived in Jenks she ran a sewing and alterations business. She also made many of the clothes her children wore. She also made dresses for numerous Miss Oklahoma contestants.
Her creativity has continued into retirement. Martin took carving lessons from Gary Mathias, creating numerous items which dot the shelves of her Grove home.
One other way she stays sharp: Martin credits doing the jumble puzzle each day, and until recently, she has crochet afghans for her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
One hallmark of her life, Martin said she set a goal to make sure all of her children graduated from college. She said all of her daughters graduated with a college degree. All of her sons attended college, with one finishing his degree. The other sons went into the armed services.
"I taught my children a love for beauty of the outdoors and what God has made for us," Martin said. "Sunsets, flowers, nature, even storms have certain beauty. I taught them not to be afraid of storms and taught them the value of being very active and the value of work."
This originally appeared in the Friday, Oct. 9, issue of The Grove Sun.