The Heroines

Mary Gilmour Martin

is honored with a Medium Paver from Lorine M. Kieler.

Mary Gilmour Martin was born June 16, 1899, and died September 10, 1978 in Owensboro, KY. Mary grew up in a home that overlooked the Ohio River from a high bank. Her father, John Gilmour, (1866-1932) was a stockbroker and businessman. The stock market crash of 1929 struck him hard. Her mother, Mary Feland Gilmour, served many years in the Republican Party. She worked as well for women's suffrage which was legislated in 1920. From 1921-1926 she was appointed by Presidents Harding and Coolidge to serve as postmaster of Owensboro, KY.

Mary had an older brother, John (1896-1918), who died after serving two years as a medic with the U.S. forces in France in World War I. She also had a younger sister, Sarah (1900-1960). Mary went to art school in Kansas City. In the 1920s she graduated with a AB degree in Art from the University of Louisville.

In 1924 she married Benjamin C. Martin (1892-1988), a tobacco man. There were four children, three girls and a boy. In 1930 they built a brick home at 1802 McCreary Avenue which was the family home for the next 58 years. The story the family tells is that the two-story home was built for approximately $5,000, and sold in 1988, at the death of Ben Martin, for $103,000.

Mother was a member of the Daughters of American Revolution, the Owensboro Woman's Club, the Married Ladies Reading Club, the YWCA, and President of Owensboro-Daviess County Church Women United. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, and served as President of the Women's Association, and of the Western Kentucky Presbyterial.

Throughout her life Mary believed strongly that peace was an imperative way for nations to relate. She encouraged her children in a sense of fairness, of working for justice, to pull for the underdog, and for wanting "right" to be done. She felt history was important, whether personal, national or international. She kept alive the memory of her brother John, and other family members and ancestors. All four children were enabled to graduate from college.

In August 1978 mother and dad made arrangements for a family reunion at Kentucky Dam State Park. All four children with their spouses and children came from over the country. After several days we returned home refreshed and happy, preparing for another school year.

Within days, mother died of heart failure. She left us all with so many lovely memories to remind us of her life and love, of her quiet strength and stability, as well as her warmth and tenderness. We remember well the home on McCreary Street, the many books on the shelves in the living room and the fireplace where we gathered every day, the side screened-in-porch, and the many family meals.

Her love and graciousness still touch us--even after 20 years since her death in 1978. Mary Gilmour Martin is never more than a thought away. It is our privilege to honor her in the Wichita State University Plaza of Heroines.

September 16, 1998