Services were held at 2:00p.m. Tuesday, September 25, at Hermosa Drive Church of Christ for Martha Elizabeth Merritt Derrick of Artesia.
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Derrick, 92, went to heaven to be with the Lord on Sept. 21, 2012.
Martha was born Feb. 17, 1920, on a small ranch Southwest of Plains, Texas. A short time later, the family moved to a ranch East of Lake Arthur, where she grew up and graduated from High School. Many of her childhood days were spent "herding sheep." Each day, her brothers and sisters would divide up the sheep in groups of 300 to 400 and "head off" in different directions to find grass. They would each take their dinner in a little pail and stay out all day. Martha sometimes read Gene Stratton Porter novels while sheep grazed.
This was during the Great Depression, and the family did not have enough money to buy shoes, so they went out barefoot. Their feet became very tough, but they didn't think anything about it because it was just a way of life. It was this kind of ranch toughness that carried Martha through life, always meeting adversity without complaining and determination to overcome.
After graduating high School, she went to College in Portales, obtaining her teaching certificate. She taught grades 1-8 in a one-room schoolhouse in Rippee, N.M., for one year before she heard her country calling. Martha joined the war effort by enlisting in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corp. (WAACS) in 1942. She was stationed in Ayer, Mass., at Fort Devens, where she served her country through the end of the war and was honorably discharged. One of her duties was driving a truck transporting German prisoners of war that had been sent stateside.
After the war, she married the neighboring rancher's son, Buddy Derrick. They had four children, three girls and one boy. Martha was a beautiful seamstress and made clothes for her girls. She had a hard time finding good quality material that she liked and decided to do something about it. Thus began her next adventure in life.
In 1962, she opened Martha's Fabric Shop on Main Street in Artesia. After 50 years in operation, her stores are still open today in Artesia and Ruidoso. The stores remain known today for their quality and variety of material. For 50 years, Martha has been weaving compassion, beauty and inspiration into the fabric of people's lives. She has become famous for her unparalleled selection. A recent customer sent a note stating, "When one enters Martha's Fabrics, they enter a wonderful world of color, texture and design." Martha is and will be remembered by all as an icon in the fabric business. In 2008, she was honored in Washington, D.C., with an award representing New Mexico as one of America's Older Outstanding Workers.
Martha was baptized into Christ in her early teens in the Feliz River between Lake Arthur and Hagerman and remained a faithful Christian all of her life. She was also a true patriot, working to preserve our Republic. She prayed each night for God to save our country. She was a wonderful Christian wife, mother, rancher, World War II veteran and business woman. Martha is loved and will be missed greatly.
Survivors include her sister, Bobbie McDonald, of Roswell; brother Billy Merritt of Roswell; three daughters, Dinah DeSoto and husband Gary of Carlsbad, Cassandra Witherspoon and husband Dee of Artesia and Clarissa Derrick of Ruidoso; son Louis Derrick and wife Valerie of San Antonio, Texas; grandchildren Gary Louis DeSoto, Leigh Langley, David DeSoto, Merritt Witherspoon, Austin Witherspoon and Braeden Derrick; and one great-grandson, Jackson Langley.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Buddy Derrick; parents Robert Lee and Lena Ward Merritt; and brother Chris Merritt.
Arrangements were under the direction of Terpening & Son Mortuary. Condolences may be expresses online at www.artesiafunerals.com or ruidosonews.com.
Published in Ruidoso News from Oct. 4 to Oct. 18, 2012