Addie Martin, longtime Sweet Briar employee, passes away at 84

The Sweet Briar community was saddened to learn of the death of Addie Loving Martin, 84, of Amherst on Friday, June 3, 2016. Martin worked in food service at Sweet Briar for 45 years. During that time, she came to be known and loved by many students, faculty and staff.

She was born March 30, 1932, in Amherst County to the late Mannie Dewey Martin and the late Nancy Anne Tomlin Martin. She was married to Jessie Willard Martin for 40 years before Willard died on June 14, 1996. Martin, who also went by “Polly,” was known as a loving and kind person. She retired in May 1996 from food service at Sweet Briar, where she started as a waitress and later supervised in the dining room.

An obituary in the News & Advance notes that, “Although Addie never had children, she treated all the girls who came through the dining room like her own. She was a true friend to many. She loved everyone and was quick to tell you so.”

Nancy Herr watched and learned from Martin in her first year as catering manager at Sweet Briar. She recalls a scene during Reunion in the 1980s, when she realized how important Martin was to students.

“I was greeting and directing alumnae and their families into Prothro, [and] I heard Addie’s unmistakably deep, husky voice say, ‘Hello, Sunshine,’ to an alumnae,” Herr says. “Not only did she call her by name, but to my surprise, she knew the name of her husband and both her children!”

Herr says students always made a point to bring their parents to the dining hall during commencement “so they could meet the ‘mother and grandmother’ to all students away from home — Addie. From those days, on I understood the power of the ‘Lunch Lady’ and pledged to always say hello to every student that I passed on campus, whether I knew her name or not.”

Martin was preceded in death by four sisters, Minnie Williams, Maggie Grant, Neather Staton and Pearl Martin; and one brother, Arthur Dewey Martin. She is survived by one brother, William Boyd Martin and his wife, Thelma, of Madison Heights, and a host of nieces, nephews and close friends.

She was a member of Clifford Baptist Church, where she attended regularly until her health declined. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her — including many who commented on her passing on social media.

Laura Glover ’86 remembers a comforting presence far from home.

“What a loving and remarkable woman who never let me feel like I was half a country away from home,” Glover wrote on Facebook. “She made Sweet Briar home. Rest in peace, Sweet [Addie].”

Lynn Canada calls Martin a “great mentor,” who trained her in food service beginning when she was just 16 — and helped her to advance in the job.

“The laughs we shared will forever be in my heart,” Canada wrote.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at Clifford Baptist Church with the Rev. Dr. Michael Fitzgerald officiating. Interment will follow in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 6, at the funeral home and other times at the home of her niece and husband, Russell and Gloria Mays, at 580 Patrick Henry Highway in Amherst.

Those wishing to make memorial contributions are asked to consider Clifford Baptist Church, Amherst County SPCA, or a charity of choice. Driskill Funeral Chapel in Amherst is in charge of arrangements.