Longtime professor dies at 97
By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 31, 2014 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Lorelle Franck Martin, the much-beloved and founding member of the Mount Olive College faculty, died early Sunday following a period of declining health.
She was 97.
The family will receive friends Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tyndall Funeral Home and at the residence at other times.
The funeral will be Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Mount Olive at the corner of West John and North Chestnut streets with burial following at Martin-Price Cemetery, N.C. 55 West, near the residence.
The Rev. Dr. Dennis R. Atwood, senior pastor, and the Rev. Felicia Fox, associate pastor of students and families, will officiate.
Mrs. Martin served for 30 years as chairman of the Department of Science and Mathematics at Mount Olive College before retiring in 1987.
Retired college librarian Gary Barefoot first met Mrs. Martin when he was a student at the college.
Barefoot returned to the campus as a faculty member in 1965 and worked with Mrs. Martin until her retirement in 1987.
"As a student I remember her as one of the best teachers that I ever had," he said. "As far as a person, I don't think I have ever met anyone in my life who made more of an impression on me -- not only as a good teacher, but as a good person."
Mrs. Martin was a "genuine person" people did not mind doing things for -- whether it be classwork or supporting the Exchange Club or the Read to Succeed program she started at Carver Elementary School.
"I have always referred to her as St. Lorelle," Barefoot said. "I don't know what the qualifications are as far as sainthood, but I think she is as close to it as any person on earth."
Dr. Michael Pelt, professor emeritus of the college's religion department, and Mrs. Martin arrived at the college at the same time in 1957.
She was "the science department" for many years until Willis Brown joined the college staff, he said. She taught all five of the sciences that were taught at that time.
"I don't know that I have ever had a better friend. She was as kind and generous as anyone I have ever known. It was always a joy to be with her."
The 22nd annual Lorelle F. Martin Science Lecture, established in 1993 by Dr. E. Lee Glover of Everett, Pa., as an annual tribute to his former teacher, is still scheduled for this Thursday.
It will start at 7 p.m. in the Southern Bank Auditorium in the Raper Building. Dr. Dudley Anderson, an oncologist and collector of fine glass art, will be the speaker.