Martha Elizabeth (Rasberry) Owen, age 85, of Selma,Alabama, passed away on Saturday, September 5, 2020, after a lengthy illness.
She was born in Weleetka, Oklahoma, on July 3, 1935,to John Milbern Rasberry (Jazz) and Florence King Rasberry. Martha was valedictorian of her high school class in Weleetka. She played all the single reed instruments in the band, as well as the oboe, a double reed, which began a life-long love of playing music. She followed the path of her father and attended Oklahoma Baptist University, where she received a B.S. in nursing, graduating with honors. She went on to serve her country in the Army and attained the rank of first lieutenant.
Martha was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and there met the love of her life, Robert F. (Bob) Owen while on duty as a nurse. They met again at church and dated for a couple of years, part of the time long distance, before she would ultimately follow Bob to Alabama and 59 years of marriage. Martha first worked in public health in Demopolis, Alabama. Later, while raising two children, Martha worked staff development at the Selma Medical Center while attending night school at Troy State University, where she earned her master's degree in education. She wrote her master's thesis on how to start a nursing program in a junior college and then went and did just that at Wallace State Community College in Selma, all while raising her two children Robert F. (Bobby) Owen, Jr., and Elizabeth LeAnne Owen, and later cousin Suzie Rich. Martha continued mentoring scores of young nurses at school, many of whom think of her as a second mom even now.
Martha ultimately taught a couple of generations of central Alabama nurses and left all in her community better for knowing her. She was distinguished as Alumni of the Year in 1989 by her alma mater,Oklahoma Baptist University, for her selfless sacrifices in nursing education. After retiring from Wallace State in 1992, Martha would go on to found Diversified Nursing Services and spend the next 20 years continuing to do what she loved: teaching the nurses of Alabama, this time as company owner and content coordinator - and, as anyone who attended the seminars knew, maker of the Christmas ceramics.
Martha loved arts and crafts and in addition to ceramics, Martha's handiwork in needlepoint can still be seen on some of the seats in the main auditorium of First Baptist Church of Selma. Martha was very active in the First Baptist Church. She taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and played piano for many classes for years. Faith and humility were central to Martha's life. Everyone who knew her, knew of her love of the Lord and her faith in Jesus Christ.
When not working Martha traveled frequently including a trip to England with friends, yearly trips to Branson, Missouri, often with her mother-in-law Nell and sister Helen, on a pair of mission tours to Malawi when she was in her 70's and in recent years, on yearly visits to her beloved Oklahoma to see her Mary and Louise in the fall. Martha was active in many organizations including the American Cancer Society and her beloved Gamma Sigma Alpha.
In recent years Parkinson's disease slowed Martha down, but never took the love of nursing away, as she continued to tell the staff how to nurse, even in assisted living at Cedar Hills.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her brother John M Rasberry, her sisters Helen Jones and Mary Crowley, and her grandson Wellesley Owen.
She is survived by her husband Robert F. "Bob" Owen,Sr.; her son Robert F. "Bobby" Owen, Jr., wife Cristi and daughter Cafferty Owen of Prattville, Alabama;daughter Elizabeth LeAnne Owen of Montgomery,Alabama; brother Dr. William "Bill" L. Rasberry of Bryan Texas, sister-in-law Louise Rasberry Tinkler of Okemah, Okla.; and many nieces and nephews whom she loved and adored.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 11:00 am from the First Baptist Church of Selma with Dr. Jerry Light officiating.
The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the church.
Interment will follow at Pineview Memory Gardens in Valley Grande.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Parkinson's Foundation or the First Baptist Church of Selma.
Final care and arrangements have been entrusted to Selma Funeral Home.