Cover photo for Martha G. Childress's Obituary
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1934 Martha "Marty" Childress 2023

Martha G. Childress

December 22, 1934 — August 25, 2023

Roswell

 

Martha “Marty” Childress, age 88, passed peacefully, Friday, August 25, 2023, surrounded by the love of her family.

Marty was born December 22, 1934 to Martha Heron and Donald Orth Grimes, Sr. in Baltimore, Maryland—the third of three girls, the “JAM” sisters: Jane, Anne and Martha. Two years later their brother, Donald O. Grimes, Jr. was born and shortly after, the family moved to Chase City, Virginia where Marty graduated high school. She met the love of her life in Harrisonburg, Virginia on the campus of her alma mater, James Madison University, where she followed her education dreams of becoming a teacher. Marty had just graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Education degree. The handsome and charming 2nd Lieutenant Gerald “Jerry” Childress was on a mission from Northern Virginia to pick up other friends from the college campus when they met in 1956. As both an officer and a gentleman, he caught Marty’s eye and she, his---under the magnolia tree as was often recounted to their children. It just so happened that Marty was set to start her teaching career in Northern Virginia—her teaching career eventually spanned to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia as well as Seoul Korea. After a shorter courtship, Marty and Jerry were married February 23, 1957 at the Fort Myers Chapel with a full saber arch which Jerry had his groomsmen practice to perfection for his bride-to-be. Marty loved her new role as an Army wife and even more so, six years later when she welcomed the role as mother to Martha Jane, followed by Donald Gordon born two years later.

Marty was a dedicated career military wife. With her Southern Virginia roots she loved to cook and entertain and was the consummate hostess. She adapted quickly to Jerry’s many different assignments and stood by his side for over 65 years of marriage before his passing on July 7, 2022. Her greatest joys in life were Jerry, her children and grandchildren, as well as the many friends they made across the country and world during his military career and the years beyond.

Marty and Jerry especially loved their time post-military at New Mexico Military Institute when Jerry assumed the position of Superintendent in 1977. She started the Ambassador program matching cadets with host families in the community, as well as the “hamburger balls”at #1 Campus Circle. They both felt that it was very important for every cadet to feel welcome in their home, to personally meet them and to enjoy a cookout in the backyard, “at ease.” Marty and Jerry cherished their years at NMMI sowing into the next generation of leaders, connecting with alumni, growing the scholarship funds and lobbying in Santa Fe for campus capital improvements.

While Marty’s favorite place to be was beside Jerry in his various endeavors, she enjoyed serving the different communities where they lived over the years, especially in Roswell. Marty was involved with the Morning Garden Club, Assistance League and Assisteen sponsor, Roswell Museum and Art Center, supporter of the Artist-in-Residence program, St. Andrew’s Altar Guild and board member of First National Bank of Chaves County. Both Marty and Jerry exhibited and instilled a strong work ethic and the importance of giving back and contributing to your community. They also loved to dance, especially jitterbug and they cut many a rug from Officer’s Clubs on post, to NMMI dances, to the Belles & Beaux Danse Club, as well as the Tango Club in Roswell. One of Marty’s favorite songs was Rhinestone Cowboy and the band in Fort Riley, Kansas actually learned it for Jerry’s final review upon his retirement from the Army.

After spending 12 years in Roswell at NMMI, Jerry’s fundraising and leadership capabilities took them to California and Missouri. When he was ready to retire once again, they chose Roswell, New Mexico as their landing place in 1994 because of the community and the people they enjoyed here. (Jane and Gordon and their families are forever grateful to all Marty and Jerry’s friends and acquaintances that loved them both and made Roswell home over the years.) Upon returning, they enjoyed being grandparents and getting to travel. They loved their time spent in Italy where their passion for travel, meeting local people, and experiencing the culture through cooking schools all overlapped. Their Italian trips led to Jerry’s special Limoncello recipe as a gift at Christmas, as well as countless quarts of authentic ragu sauce made for friends and neighbors. They loved to entertain and spend time in the kitchen together as they partnered to make these gifts to share. In all they did, their innate sense of hospitality, generosity and interest in others continued from their early days in marriage. Marty was the ultimate partner to Jerry and her great relational ability to remember names, stories and connections for everyone they met endeared them to all. She was a wonderful asset and complement by the General’s side throughout their lifetimes. Marty will be well remembered by her sharp with wit and tongue, as well as her willingness to support others when in need. Her sense of humor and great love of her family and friends will be sorely missed.

Marty was preceded in death by her dearest Jerry; and, her three siblings, Jane Grimes, Anne Boswell and Donald O. Grimes, Jr. She is survived by daughter Jane (Jeff) Harvard, son Gordon (Lauri) Childress; grandchildren Jeremy (Ally) Harvard, Nicholas Childress, Julia (Connor) Harvard Robertson, Hadley Childress; great granddaughters Stella and Goldie Harvard; brother-in-law, Leon Boswell, nephew, Ed (Lynne) Boswell, and Jerry’s siblings, Bryan (Ruth) Childress and Vicey (Cecil) Quillen and numerous Childress nieces and nephews. Honoring her wishes there will be no services held. Marty will be laid to rest with her beloved Jerry at Santa Fe National Cemetery at a later date. The family would like to thank Isabel, Veronica, Susan, Lupe, Esther and Maribel, as well as Gentiva Hospice and Melissa, for their excellent care of Mom, especially over the last few months. With the help of each of these blessed ladies, we were able to honor Mom’s greatest wish to remain at home all her days.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The First Tee of Southeastern New Mexico, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Altar Guild or a charity of one’s choice.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martha G. Childress, please visit our flower store.

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