Martha Lee Rhodes

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Martha Lee Rhodes, originally of Scottdale, Pa., died in Lynchburg, Va., on Nov. 12, 2012, at the age of 73. She was the only daughter of Martha Brown Rhodes and Lee Forrest Rhodes. A former resident of New Bern between 1999 and 2010, Martha Lee worked at Jane Sugg Antiques for ten years.

After graduating from Scottdale High School in 1956 and studying home economics at Hood College in Frederick, Md., Martha Lee married John Homer Ruth, Jr., in 1959 (they divorced in 1987) and thus a world traveler was born as her husband became an international business executive.

For the next 28 years, Martha Lee made homes for her growing family in four U.S. states and six foreign countries, deftly navigating the many customs, nuances, and peculiarities associated with living abroad. This life kindled with her a love of art, culture and languages, and she incorporated the sights, sounds and flavors that surrounded her into the beautiful life she made for her family.

Interacting with people of so many nationalities for so many years, Martha Lee developed a deep and admirable tolerance for humanity, and she believed that every human being deserved to be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect, no matter their station or circumstance. She championed the underdog and was a proponent of social justice wherever she lived, volunteering at the free medical clinic in New Bern and elsewhere.??

She had a particular affinity for nature's beauty and brought its loveliness into her home at every opportunity. She found pleasure and meaning from a deep purple iris in a bud vase on her desk or a twig of bittersweet resting on a bookshelf. She adored cats and in addition to loving them as pets she enjoyed learning about their depiction in art, literature and popular culture.?

Martha Lee was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Clifford, Va., and while the foundation of her faith was Anglicanism, she developed a deep appreciation for the other spiritual traditions, particularly Buddhism, and the joy and comfort they could provide.??

Martha Lee was preceded in death by her only son, John Homer Ruth III, who died in 2010. She is survived by her two loving daughters and their husbands (who adored their mother-in-law), Melissa Martha Ruth (Jorge Rodriguez), of New York City, N.Y. and Amy Ruth Allen (R. Leigh Allen Jr.) of Lynchburg, Va.; and her former husband, John Homer Ruth Jr., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Donations may be made in her memory to the Wounded Warrior Foundation, a charity she supported in honor of her late son, or to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Clifford, Va. Per her wishes, her remains will be scattered at sea at Atlantic Beach during a private family service.

Whitten Funeral Home, Park Avenue Chapel, of Lynchburg, Va., handled the family's affairs.

Published in Sun Journal from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12, 2012