Martha McGowin, 91, of Jackson died Jan. 19, 2012 peacefully at her residence.
She was born Nov. 1, 1920 in Meridian, Miss. to Helen Warner McGowin and Wallace Elbert McGowin. Her mother died of spinal meningitis seven days after Martha’s birth. A nurse from Rush Hospital brought Martha to Jackson on a train. Martha and her sister and two brothers were reared by their grandmother, Martha Virginia Moore Warner.
She was a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church of Jackson. She was widely known as a remarkable teacher, artist, preservationist, and lover of life and nature.
Martha grew up in Jackson and graduated from State Secondary Agricultural School which was later named Jackson High School. She graduated from Alabama College for Women, presently the University of Montevallo, with a major in Art and a minor in History. From the summer of 1942 until 1945, she worked for the U.S. Corps of Engineers in Mobile. She worked as a mechanical draftsman for American Cyanamid Company in New York City from 1945 to 1947.
She returned to Jackson in the Fall of 1947, and taught Junior High School English and History until the summer of 1954 when she began taking courses at the University of Alabama. She taught Engineering Drawing part-time while earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1958. She taught Engineering Drawing full-time at the University of Alabama from 1958 to 1980.
Following her retirement, she returned home to Jackson where she was a member of the First United Methodist Church. She was a member of the Clarke County Historical Society, and was instrumental in the nominations of numerous historical houses in Jackson. She was a member of the Jackson Bicentennial Committee where she was instrumental in choosing the Kimbell House as a permanent gift to the city, and she worked diligently on the restoration of the house.
As an avid lover of nature, Martha was a member and supporter of the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Her concern for others was manifested by her devotion and caregiving to her extended family including her grandmother, whom she called, “Mama”, her sister, Helen, and the nieces, nephews, and cousins she nurtured and loved. Martha also sponsored many impoverished Latin American children during her lifetime.
Survivors include a nephew Billy Calhoun Odom Jr. (Cindy), two nieces Susan Odom McCorquodale, Gayle McGowin (Lon) Spencer and a host of beloved family and other dear friends John Dowling and Barbara Hundley, and her devoted caregivers Sandra Chaney, Marzell House, Elizabeth Hixon, Linda King, and Adrian Hixon.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Wallace, Warner, and Jacob McGowin, her beloved sister Helen McGowin Odom, and her nephew Mike (Mary Clyde) McGowin.
The family will receive friends at The Warner Home, 407 East Church Street in Jackson Friday, Jan. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Jackson on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Clarke County Animal Shelter: P.O. Box 548, Grove Hill, AL 36451, Jackson Public Library: 213 College Ave., Jackson, AL 36545, or First United Methodist Church-Gaines’ Fund: 146 College Ave., Jackson, AL 36545. Lathan Funeral Home of Jackson will direct.