Remembering Will J.

Will J. Martin was photographed on the front porch of the home of his daughter, Marietta Handy, near the Fellowship community just a few years ago.

Just prior to the death of Will J. Martin, he shared some memories with me about his youth, along with stories of his parents and grandparents, and how it was to grow up around Roadside some 84 years ago. As is the case with most all the stories I do, I had a very enjoyable time reminiscing with Will J. as he looked back at his life just as the cold days of this past winter were almost over. Will J. was a long-time and active member of the Antioch Church of Christ near Taylors Crossroads. Following the sudden death of his wife, Jewell, who died at only 41, Will J. had to face the task of raising three very young daughters all alone. And like that of his wife, but more than 30 years later, Will J.’s death also came about very unexpectedly. Those who knew and loved Will J., especially his daughters, Marietta Handy, Wanda White, and Marlene Staggs, were shocked and saddened at his passing on April 15 of this year. My husband and I were among the large number who attended his funeral at Antioch, and I can honestly say that I have never before heard such beautiful congregational singing as I did during that service. It seemed to me that the voices blended in perfect harmony and completely filled the little church that meant so much to him. In his memory, Geraldine (Sells) Stover has written a tribute to Will J., someone she has known all her life and attended church with. She has graciously given me permission to share what she has written. She titled her tribute as "The Farewell."

The scene was on a warm April day in a small country church in the mid-south. The little white church was overflowing with family, old friends and neighbors who had come to bid their final farewell to an old pillar of the church and of the neighborhood.

At the appointed hour in the afternoon, the song leader rose to lead the audience in the Old Brother’s favorite hymns. The beautiful words of "Rock of Ages, Let Me Hide Myself In Thee" drifted from the little church, across the old church yard, through the little church cemetery and into the nearby fields and meadows. The minister and long-time friend spoke of the Old Brother’s 84 year journey on life’s highway. He spoke of the hills and valleys, the sunshine in his life and that he was no stranger to the rain.

As is the custom in the south, the people passed one by one by the casket. Many tears could be seen in their eyes as they said their final farewell to the long-time friend and neighbor. The casket was then carried from the little church across the old church yard and into the little church cemetery where it was placed in the gentle arms of Mother Earth and beside his beloved Jewell. As time drifts by, he will sleep in peace and contentment by the side of his bride of long ago.

As the people slowly drifted away, the warm, gentle breeze played in the stately old oaks and whispered, "Let it be ... Let it be."

The story I did earlier with Will J. can be found on my website,, and is titled "Will J. Remembers."