Barbara Ann Martin, 92, of Greenville, formerly of Covington, passed away peacefully Sunday, November 27, 2022, at the Versailles Health Care Center.
Have you lost someone? Have you ever wondered what a new lease on life feels like? Have you ever wanted to speak your mind, but kept quiet? Have you allowed your fears to crowd out your hopes? Barbara faced those challenges too. Until she overcame them. She discovered it’s never too late to find your voice, laugh out loud, unleash your hopes and live courageously, with a big open heart. This is her story.
Barbara was born on May 31, 1930 to Jametta K. and Harry Helmer in Dayton. Spending much of the first five and half years of her life surrounded by adults, quieted by their stature and expectations.
Teaching herself to sew at the age of 5, with a needle and thread in her hand Barbara learned early that when you make a mistake you can always rip it out and start over.
She met the arrival of her baby brother, Kelsey with skepticism, and an honest request to return to sender. However, by the time Sandra was born a couple of years later, those years of uncertainty had melted away, unleashing the joys and comforts of being a big sister.
As the oldest daughter of hardworking and loving parents, Barbara learned early about duty and never shied away from doing her part to help. That same reserved quiet little girl relished the independence of adventure. She was no stranger to trading in those responsibilities for the freedom and simple joy of a long bike ride around Indian Lake with her cousin and closest childhood friend, June.
It must have been her love of adventure and quiet sense of humor that made her the perfect match for a confident upperclassman, Ernest (Ernie) G. Martin, at Newton High School. The flicker lit by a stolen kiss on her parent’s doorstep after a class trip to Wright Field, foreshadowed a love story that would last a lifetime and more. Barbara and Ernie were married Dec. 21, 1948 at Church of the Brethren in Pleasant Hill, Ohio. They had big plans for their future and shortly after their honeymoon in Richmond, Indiana, left the comforts of family and beloved community to start a new life in Arlington, VA.
Duty called on Barbara once more in Arlington. 5-E-1083. Does that mean anything to you? It did to Barbara. She was very proud of the two years she worked at the Pentagon in office 1083 of the E-ring. As exciting as those early years in the Nation’s Capitol were, Barbara was ready for her greatest chapter yet, motherhood, and that meant returning home.
In Cindy, Barbara found a daughter to adore, sew dresses for and teach to cook. And in Gail, Barbara found a daughter to cherish, a kindred spirit to experience life with. In both, her greatest hopes were reaffirmed.
With their family growing, Barbara and Ernie set out on a new adventure. For 23 years as co-owner of the Ernie Martin Floor Covering in Covington, Barbara helped many of her neighbors uncover their part of the American dream, one color palette, ceramic tile or carpet square at a time.
Once her girls had grown and the floor covering store locked it’s door for the final time, Barbara and Ernie continued pursuing their big plans . Relishing in the next chapter of their life together they set out to explore. Going on cruises, visiting community festivals in neighboring states and driving across the country to see their grandkids.
As the years passed, Ernie would regale their grandchildren with stories about his beloved Barbara; their first kiss, their wedding, Grandma’s cookies, and her smile. All the while she nodded, in approval or with sleep, the grandkids never could tell. Ernie loved her and Barbara loved him, in each other they found everything they wanted and together they built everything they needed.
Just as they moved one final time, in 2017, as husband and wife, to Versailles, Ernie passed away. He had been a constant in her life for nearly 70 years, it would be easy to understand if Barbara chose to retreat quietly from the life they built. But faced with the choice of fear or hope, Barbara chose to write a new chapter. And perhaps for the first time, it was her story alone to write.
Untethered by expectation, Barbara seized life in whole new ways. This blossoming license was apparent to everyone. She was renewed. She confidently shared her easy smile, emboldened laughter and quick wit with everyone. You could feel her joy in a brand new way. She was as energetic and big-hearted as ever.
Barbara didn’t shy from new adventures. At 88, with Gail by her side, Barbara made that same cross-country trip to Oklahoma she and Ernie had made so many times before. Along the way she never missed a chance to belt out the chorus to "On the Road Again,” every time Gail started the car, both laughing as they sang. This particular journey was special. Barbara and Gail would join 5 generations of women; including Cindy, her granddaughter Amanda, great granddaughter Amber and Azaliya, her brand new great great granddaughter.
Barbara loved color and fashion. And Cindy, who shares her mom’s passions, helped Barbara express herself with special deliveries from their favorite dress shop.
Covid brought a new challenge all together. Barbara wasn’t taken with despair from the new limited visitation rules. Instead she met the challenge of staying in touch with those she loved and cared for most with great courage by teaching herself to use an iPad her grandson, Ryan, sent to her. The iPad was her vehicle to explore once more. She loved chatting almost daily with her family, receiving pictures of their latest travels, and even attending Ryan’s wedding (virtually) in Phoenix this past spring.
And in the final few hours, as she rested, with Gail steadfastly by her side and Cindy lovingly joining on the iPad, Barbara knew her final act was coming to a close. Through it all, Barbara was seen sharing her smile, heard lifting her voice and holding firm to the hope of Heaven and the legacy of courage she left with all who knew and loved her; especially her 2 adoring daughters, 2 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, great-great-granddaughter, her sister, and extended family, friends and the entire Versailles Health Care community.
Granddaughter Amanda shared the following remembrances of her beloved grandmother...Many of my first, favorite childhood memories, included you. One year, in middle school, I had taken a semester of French, for my foreign language credit. My favorite thing to say, in French, was “excuse moi sit vous plait”. My grandma looked at me and said, "if you say that one more time, Im going to sit vous plait, you!" LOL! I love you, Grandma! Amber, Kobe and I, we all love you. Truly you are forever missed, and will never be forgotten. Thank you for the years of cherished memories, we will hold dear to our hearts throughout the rest of our journeys in life. Something to help remind us of the truths, when the lies are easier to believe.
Funeral services will be conducted at 10 a.m. Monday, December 5, at Moore Funeral Home, 10 S. High St., Covington, with Dr. Keith Gebhart officiating. Burial will follow in Miami Memorial Park, Covington. Visitation will be from 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Online condolences may be left for the family at moorefh.com.