SPARTANBURG — When she looks back on her life of slightly more than 100 years, Louise Martin recalls her career as a teacher in Gaffney and Union with fondness.
“I enjoyed it, I taught mostly third grade,” she said about her 25 years as a teacher.
Martin, who celebrated her 100th birthday on May 5, taught for six years in Gaffney and then for 19 years at Foster Park Elementary School in Union until her retirement in 1979.
She was born in Cherokee County in 2013, the youngest of eight children who, together with her siblings, grew up on their parents’ farm. Martin attended Limestone College where she studied to be a teacher.
She did not, however, become a teacher upon graduation, but instead married M.D. Martin, gave birth to and raised their sons Hugh and Lynn as a stay-at-home mom and eventually, became the bookkeeper for her husband’s business, M.D. Martin Heating & Air.
“She didn’t teach when we were small,” Hugh Martin said Thursday afternoon at the Spartanburg home he and his wife, Terry, share with his mother. “She stayed at home and raised us. When we got up to school age she started keeping our father’s books.”
While she would eventually live and work in Union, Louise Martin moved to Charleston before World War II when her husband was hired to work in the naval yards.
“They moved there before the war started,” Hugh said. “The Navy was starting to build up for the war and they were hiring sheet metal workers and that’s how they ended up in Charleston.”
After the war, the family eventually made its way back to the Upstate where Louise Martin would teach, first in Cherokee County, and then in Union County at Foster Park. After her retirement, she continued to live in Union until about 10 years ago when she went to live with Hugh and Terry.
“I miss being in Union, but it is very nice here,” Louise said of the home she shares with her son and daughter-in-law.
Her other son, Lynn, lives in Virginia, but he was there Sunday with Hugh and Terry to celebrate Louise’s 100th birthday.
“I was very happy to have my children here,” Louise said.
No birthday celebration is complete, however, without a surprise gift. For Louise that was an appearance on WSPA’s “Your Carolina” show hosted by Union native Jack Roper. Terry submitted a photo taken of Louise at Christmas and it appeared on the show the Wednesday before Louise’s birthday.
Louise didn’t see the episode when it aired, but Terry taped it for her and played it for her later, much to her mother-in-law’s delight.
“That was nice,” Louise said. “It was a surprise.”
Her picture appearing on the show also led to her receiving a number of cards from people who recognized her and wanted to wish her happy birthday. She also received cards from the members of the family’s church.
“I got so many nice cards,” she said. “They were all so very nice.”
Louise also got a new bedspread that Terry and her daughter placed on her bed as a surprise while she was eating breakfast. She also got a geranium and other flowers and Bruster’s Ice Cream coupons which Hugh said she was especially happy to receive.
As she begins her second century of life, many no doubt wonder what is the secret of Louise’s longevity. She’d like to know it, too.
“I don’t know,” she said.
Terry, however, thinks it has to do with her mother-in-law’s dining habits.
“Part of her secret is she eats well,” Terry said. “She has a full breakfast like toast with lots of jelly on her toast, eggs, oatmeal, and Canadian bacon. Then she has coffee, orange juice, and water.
“Her other meals are very light, lunch is very light and dinner is even lighter,” she said. “She has Ensure at night and half a grilled cheese sandwich. She also has chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.”
Terry said her mother-in-law stays active and is an early riser, usually getting up before she and Hugh. She said Louise showers on her own, gets dressed and then makes up her bed. Throughout the day Louise will take naps and between them she enjoys doing word puzzles.
While she’s an early riser, Terry said Louise also goes to bed early, usually sometime between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
While living to be 100 is a milestone few reach, what Louise said she was touched even more by the outpouring of affection she received from those who know and remember her from throughout her life.
“I am very happy to know that people have remembered me and loved me,” she said.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.