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Priscilla N. Martin, of Monson MA, 106, passed peacefully in her sleep on January 19, 2024, in North Andover, MA. Her extraordinary life spanned two pandemics, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and many phenomenal changes as she was born shortly after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk and saw Man journey to the moon. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living person in the history of Monson, Massachusetts, where she had lived in the same house for over 75 years. Her life was blessed with a 70-year marriage to Clarence L. Martin, Jr., who was the love of her life and soul mate. She has now returned to the loving embrace of her beloved husband, “Chick”.
Priscilla was born on August 1, 1917, in Springfield, MA, to Norman and Lillian (Fletcher) Jones, natives of Massachusetts and Vermont. She was extremely proud of her Yankee heritage and would often say New England was the best place in the world. She was predeceased by her parents, her husband, her two sisters and their spouses, Charlotte Hodges (Joel “Bill”) and Betty Fay (Don), as well as her three nieces, Judith Hodges Ickes, Martha Fay Feeley, and Priscilla Fay Stover.
She married Clarence L. Martin, Jr. on June 24, 1939, in Needham, MA, where she graduated from high school. They then moved to Monson where “Chick” was teaching at Monson Academy and where they lived the rest of their lives. Remarkably, she lived nearly 85 years after she was married.
She is survived by and was the mother of three children, David Martin (Natalie) of Summerville, SC, Susan Martin (Judith) of Newberg, OR, and Jill Barker (Christopher) of North Andover, MA. She has three grandsons, Jeremy Martin (Jill) of Solana Beach, CA, Jonathan Martin (Betsy) of New Orleans, LA, and Washington, DC, and Benjamin Jones Barker of Chicago Illinois. She was the great grandmother of Josie Martin of Solana Beach and the step great grandmother of Ella Raineri of New Orleans.
Priscilla was gifted with a marvelous singing voice which allowed her to be a lead soloist in Monson’s First Congregational Church choir for over 35 years. She had such an exceptional voice that she was asked on occasion to sing at local weddings. Music was her big passion, which led to her co-founding a local area chorus called “The Villagers”, that brought her tremendous pleasure and joy from her 50’s into her 70’s. This abiding love of music and singing continued throughout her entire life as she sang “Happy Birthday” this past October to her great granddaughter Josie, only three months before she passed at over 106.
Besides her husband and children, who were the center of her universe and the most profound joys of her life, she adored her home in Monson on which she lavished hours of painstaking care on its beautiful grounds and on her interior decorating. She truly loved being a wife, mother, grandmother, and a homemaker.
She and her husband loved their walks in the country and loved their travels together, especially in retirement years. Also, her life was not quite complete without her beloved dogs who all held a special place in her heart and life, beginning when she was a youngster keeping twine in her pocket on the off chance that she would come across a stray to befriend.
Apart from her Monson home, her other favorite place on Earth was the summer home in Maine on Cochnewagon Pond in Monmouth. The happiest times in her life were spent with her husband, children, and grandchildren for 75 years at her beloved cottage, “Cedar Hedge”, which she lovingly and creatively tended to as she did her family home.
She had many gifts, including being a masterful gardener, a gourmet cook, and a talented decorator. She loved politics and history which she passed on to her son and her two grandsons. Both her daughters and her third grandson inherited her love of singing and the theater. From her youth she was an avid reader and, as a widow at 92, she also loved crossword puzzles and anagrams that she continued to do daily with her wonderful caregivers.
Throughout the years, Priscilla was active in her community. As well as co-founding “The Villagers”, she was its Mistress of Ceremonies, and in addition to being a lead soloist in the church choir, she was the Chairwoman of the First Church Music Committee. For many years she was the Monson representative for the Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society. She was a leader with the Girl Scouts, and while her children attended Monson schools, she was employed with the Monson Schools food services. She also served as a teacher’s aide at “L’Ecole Francaise”, a pre-school program in Monson, and in her early years in town, she was a Monson Academy librarian.
She was blessed in the last fifteen years of her life, after her husband passed, to be surrounded every day by an outstanding team of devoted, loving caregivers who made it possible for her to remain in her beloved home until nearly the end of her life.
Priscilla lived an exceptionally long life because she had a “Yankee” constitution, tough, strong and resilient, as evidenced by two remarkable recoveries: after breaking a hip at 100 and contracting pneumonia at 105. She even survived a bout of Covid at 106. Her indomitable spirit and will to live, despite these setbacks, truly personified her life.
In lieu of flowers, Priscilla requested that gifts in her memory be made to the “First Church of Monson Organ Fund”, the “Clarence L. Martin, Jr. Yearbook Award” at Monson High School, or the “St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital” in Memphis, TN.
A memorial service to honor Priscilla Martin’s life will be held on Monday, April 29, 2024, at 11:00 AM, in the First Church of Monson, Congregational (United Church of Christ) at 5 High Street, Monson, MA.
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