Nell Gifford Martin

Nell Gifford Martin, Ph.D., died Wednesday, June 22, 2005, at her home at Creekside Terrace, 3895 Old Vineyard Road, Winston-Salem. The cause was cancer. Born Nellie Louise Gifford on Aug. 24, 1943, Dr. Martin grew up in Canonsburg, Pa., a small town south of Pittsburgh, which she loved for the dramatic diversity of its population and the beauty of its setting. She would recognize that setting again when she first visited the steeply wooded hills of Tuscany. Even the crumbling subsistence farms of the Italian countryside were reflected in the fading fortunes of her home's small dairy farms. Dr. Martin graduated from Wheaton College in 1966 with a degree in English literature and French. She worked as a writer and editor in Chicago, Ill., until 1974, when she moved to Washington, D.C. At that time she began collecting primitive American folk art and furniture, in which she saw qualities that complemented 20th century American fine art. In 1976, she moved to New York City where, in 1978, she opened an art gallery devoted to exploring relations among these several forms of art. She continued as an art dealer until 1984, although her emerging interest in relations between the history of religions and the history of art gradually drew her away from commerce and back to school. In 1984, she earned a master of arts degree in religion from Columbia University in New York. In the same year, she married James Alfred Martin Jr., a professor of religion retired from Columbia University. The couple moved to North Carolina, where he accepted a post as university professor at Wake Forest University and she entered graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this time concentrating in art history. She received a master of arts degree in 1988, and a Ph.D. in 1995. Her area of particular expertise was the illustration of devotional literatures in 12th and 13th century England and France. She was especially interested in uncovering the practices and content of female devotion, information largely obscured by the suppression of female religious life in the period and later. Dr. Martin had the pleasure of filling teaching appointments at Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and the North Carolina School of the Arts. But her most gratifying teaching experience was in Winston-Salem, where she taught eighth grade language arts and social studies at Hill Arts Magnet from 2001 to 2004. She is survived by her beloved husband; her stepmother, Mary Ruth Gifford, of Washington, Pa.; two sisters, Ruth Waite Brown of Washington, Pa., and Joyce Wilson of Huntersville; two brothers, John C. Gifford of Burlington, Vt., and Walter S. Gifford of Cumming, Ga.; seven nieces and nephews; and many cherished friends. She is grateful for untiring friends and loved ones, and their unstinting loyalty, support and kindness. A funeral Mass will be conducted at 2 p.m. Monday, June 27, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. The family will receive friends after the service at 4 p.m. at Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the library fund of Hill Middle School, 2200 Tryon St., Winston-Salem, 27107; or to Winston-Salem Crisis Control Ministry, 200 E. 10th St., Winston-Salem, 27101.

Published by Winston-Salem Journal from Jun. 25 to Jun. 26, 2005.
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3 Entries
My beloved Aunt Nell,you will always hold a very special place in the hearts of Pete, Johnna, Davin and myself. My heart goes out to Uncle Al and the rest of the family.
All my love Trish
Tricia Lewis
June 27, 2005
Al and the Family of Dr. Nell Martin:

My deepest condolences goes out to each of you. Nell was a very good friend, colleague, and co-worker of mine. We met while working on our certification in English Language Arts at UNC-G for the NC TEACH program. She always volunteered to be my partner during group and partner assignments. I talked so much about the school were I taught that Dr. Martin decided she wanted to work there. And she did! She taught a Hill Magnet Middle School in my old class room -- Room 112. She was an excellent teacher, and truly an asset to our school. She worked so dilligently with our students and gave so much of herself, her time, and her personal resources. She touched so many lives. Mine was one of them. She and her husband Al gave me a suprised birthday party and invited all our classmates from NC TEACH! I sat at her table many times, and attended her garden parties, and met so many of her and Al's friends from all over the country. I always looked forward to those garden parties. She was such a good teachers that her first year teaching at Hill, she pulled student from the lowest reading level (level 1) to the highest reading level (level 4)... a miracle! All her 8th grade students passed the EOG (end-of-grade) test because of her dilligent and untiring efforts! Before she left for Christimas after discovering her illness, she was trying to help a needy family of 7 with Christmas toys and clothes. She even tried to pay for one of her students to have reconstructive surgery! These are just a few of the many things she did for us at Hill Magnet School. I will truly miss you Nell. God bless you for all your efforts! And oh yes, when I met her, she was caring for a dying collegue in her own home and proving medical assistance for her. For those of you who didn't know her like I did, you missed knowing someone truly wonderful. I Love you Nell and Al.
God Bless you!
Ruth Roberts
June 26, 2005
My prayers are with the family of Dr. Nell Martin. She will truly be missed from Hill Magnet School. God Bless each of you.
ELEANOR BROWN
June 25, 2005
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