Eulogy for Alice Martin
Died Wednesday, February 7, 2001
Memorial Service Sunday, February 11, 2001

My text is I Corinthians 13:4-7.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other peopleís sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes..

Alice Martin took to heart these words of St. Paul. This is the way she lived and this is the way she died. Aliceís life was a life of patient and unselfish love. While I personally knew her only in her retirement and in her lingering final illness, even then one could learn of the love on which her life was founded. She rarely, if ever, complained about the blows life dealt her and patiently accepted the pain and discomfort which her declining years brought. She endured whatever came. She trusted, she hoped, and above all, she loved.
She loved her church. Even when her illness prevented her from Sunday services, she relished the contacts she had with people at Faith Presbyterian Church and found great joy in the taped sermons brought to her. Only a few weeks ago I visited Alice in Galesburg and happened to mention how much I enjoyed hearing the hours chimed from the church tower. Her face lit up, as it so often did, and she thanked me sincerely for mentioning this to her and for allowing her to share even vicariously in that sound which linked her to her spiritual family.

She loved her first alma mater Monmouth College. Her college days were clearly among her happiest and to her dying day she remained grateful to the college for the education it gave her and for the many kindnesses of her professors and others at the college. She was especially grateful to the college for helping to subsidize her work towards a masters in German. She also taught German part-time at the college for a short time. If she had had a million dollars, she often said, she would have given it to the college in gratitude for all it had done for her. Unfortunately for Monmouth College, she didnít have that million dollars, but she did have great love and loyalty. In her retirement she spent many unpaid hours working through the materials in what is now the College Archives. It was a tedious and often thankless task, but Alice did it as a way to give back to the college for what it had given her. That is the kind of love she had.
Whenever I went to visit her in her sick room, she invariably wanted me to tell her about the college. She wanted to know about enrollments, courses, and people and she would ask me to describe to her in great detail how things looked and what was happening on campus. She would not have minded if I mentioned the location of every tree and bush and what it looked like. She would have been thrilled if I told her about every new acquisition in the Hewes Library.
She also loved the University of Illinois, where she earned two masters degrees, first in German and later in library science. As each of my daughters recently applied to the university for their masters degrees, Alice relived those days in Urbana and would ask us to describe the campus for her so she could recreate it in her mindís eye.
Alice also loved her home town. Although she traveled widely in her lifetime and even found herself in Germany in the frightening times of 1939, Monmouth was always where her heart was. Leaving her family home on South Ninth Street in Monmouth and moving to Galesburg in her final illness was very difficult for her. On visits to Galesburg my family and I would often talk about Monmouth and its inhabitants. She would ask us to describe specific houses and the people who lived in them so she could stay connected even from a distance.

I didnít know Alice while she was a teacher at Monmouth High School, but I can tell you that the retired school teacher Alice Martin still loved her students and thought about them often. Some of them are here this afternoon. They can tell you better than I can about Aliceís teaching. I have heard that she was not easy in the classroom. But I also know she was dedicated to her subject matter and to her pupils. Recently one of them told me that Alice came into French class one day and observed that the story in the reader had had some of the racier material removed. She caught the classís attention by announcing that she had the original with her and would read it aloud to them. I suspect that she had every ear for the rest of the class period.
Even in her last years Alice continued to love children. When my 4th-grade daughter showed up at her doorstep one day to sell her Girl Scout cookies, they somehow became fast friends. In fact, Julia came to know her as Grandma Alice and learned much about living and loving well from her adopted grandmother.
Alice also loved animals. Anyone knows that who visited her home, where she was always surrounded by dogs and cats. Even as she lay semi-conscious and dying her hand would go out instinctively and lovingly to pet the dogs and cats lying on her sickbed.

Alice Martin loved her church, her schools, her hometown, her students and her animals, but above all, Alice loved her family. She gave up a promising career as a librarian, in fact, to return to Monmouth to nurse her dying mother and she stayed in Monmouth to care for her widowed father. She never begrudged them this sacrifice, and always spoke fondly of them. She relished her visits with and letters from her sisters, her cousins, and her friends. Especially, however, she loved her son Terry, once only her student at Monmouth High School, whom she first took into her home when he needed help and whom she eventually adopted. Alice and Terry were a model of mother-son devotion. She worried about him perhaps more than he worried about her. And few children would have cared for their dying parents the way that Terry cared for his mother. Surely her love must have been great if it inspired such dedication and devotion in her son. Alice was never boastful but she can rightfully boast now about her loving son and about her own life of love.