“Rachel” Estelle Baker Martin peacefully passed away on October 15, 2020, at the age of 93 years at the home of her daughter, Annie Martin, in Pisgah Forest, NC comforted by her children, Annie, Kay and Dale. A native of Asheville, NC, Rachel is most fondly remembered by family and friends for her gift of laughter, buoyant personality and strength of character.
A true local, she was born in Asheville at Memorial Mission Hospital on September 4, 1927.
She grew up in Kenilworth with her parents, Millard H. Baker, Sr. and Marion Jenkins Baker, and her brother Millard H. Baker, Jr. (Bud). After brief stints in Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore, she returned to Asheville to begin a family with Franklin Ewers Martin, D.D.S. During her married life, she built new homes in Malvern Hills and North Asheville; and later, Tega Cay, SC. Rachel was an active member of First Baptist Church in Asheville for decades. She was involved with the NC Women’s Dental Auxiliary and the Asheville Junior Women’s Civic Club. She supported her children as a leader in various school PTAs and as a Class Mother for years.
She was a founding member of the West Asheville Garden Club. While she enjoyed gardening as a hobby, she was an avid “casual” bridge player with different groups of friends over the years. Many happy hours were spent with family playing cards and enjoying various board games including Parcheesi and Scrabble. Rachel orchestrated Sunday afternoon drives and picnics on the Blue Ridge Parkway and at the Pink Beds. She particularly enjoyed family camping in the Pisgah National Forest… a tradition she continued in the low country of South Carolina later in life. When she celebrated her 60th birthday, she wanted her own tent and camping gear as presents.
A graduate of Cullowhee State Teacher’s College in 1949 (now Western Carolina University), Rachel taught school at Blanton’s Business College and Haw Creek Elementary in Asheville and also in Baltimore while her husband was completing his studies at the University of Maryland’s School of Dentistry. Three decades later, in 1979, Rachel decided to obtain a Masters Degree in Business Education from Winthrop College (now Winthrop University).
She returned to teaching when she ventured to Hilton Head Island to start a new life chapter. She was a member of the business department faculty of the island’s first public high school when it was newly-built in 1983. She was respected by administrators, fellow teachers, and especially loved by her students. Her children recall Rachel’s popularity when her students would approach “Ms. Martin” on the beach with greetings. When she retired in 1992, she was honored with “Teacher of the Year Award.”
After retiring, she moved back to Tega Cay, SC for a while and then to the WNC mountains to live in Hendersonville, NC. Boldly, at the age of 79, she decided to build a log cabin on top of Jeter Mountain near Penrose, NC. A victim of Alzheimer’s Disease, Rachel lived in various residential facilities. However, after months of Covid-19 quarantine, her children,
Annie, Kay and Dale, were determined to bring her “home” to spend her last days with family. Rachel knew that she was truly loved as she left this world.
Rachel Martin is survived by her brother, Millard H. Baker, Jr. (Fayetteville, GA) as well as her children, Rachel Ann Martin (“Annie”, Pisgah Forest, NC); Marian Kay Martin Jones and her husband, William H. Jones, III (Annapolis, MD); her son, Franklin Dale Martin (Charlotte, NC); and her grandsons, Flint Martin Barrow and his wife, Abigail Futch Barrow, Carson Martin Escoe and Joseph Keegan Federal.
A private family ceremony will take place at the historic Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, NC where over a century of Rachel’s relatives are buried in the Jenkins/Baker family plot. Out of concern for Covid-19 health risks, no family visitation or reception will be held at this time.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations, in honor of Rachel Martin’s life, can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association online: www.act.alz.org or mailed to the national office: 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601.
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