Betty T. "Nanga" Martin, age 95, went Home to the Lord on Saturday, February 12 while at Oakdale Nursing Facility. She was born July 27, 1926 in Pontiac, MI to C.B. (Preacher) & Lola (Roopie) Thomas. The child of a minister, she grew up in MI, OK, TX and MO. She was a long-time member of the Highland Drive Church of Christ in Poplar Bluff, MO, before moving to Searcy, AR where she was a member of the Cloverdale Church of Christ.
She graduated from high school in Corpus Christi, TX and college from Abilene Christian College with a degree in elementary education. “Nanga” spent her career as an educator, primarily in teaching the elementary grades in TX, AZ, MO and AR. While teaching at Eugene Field in Poplar Bluff, MO, she was named Teacher of the Year. After teaching for 30 years, she retired at the age of 63 and moved to Searcy, AR. At 65, she began substitute teaching in the Searcy Public Schools, where she taught another 20 years because she “did not want to get old!” Doing the math, which she taught well, you have 50 total years of teaching.
Once her granddaughters were born, she was known to many as “Nanga” or “Ms. Nanga” to her Searcy students. She instilled a love for reading in all of her students through those 50 years. She often read Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” while sharing Animal Crackers with her students. Her Eugene Field students will also remember her paddle, “Old Faithful”, which hung by her desk and was adorned for the Christmas Holidays with a red ribbon.
She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Tom & DeeAnn Martin of Searcy, AR, "Nanga" to granddaughters Allison Simmons of Searcy, AR and Caroline (Brian) Cormack of Little Rock, AR and "GaGa" to great-grandsons JT, Isaac & Luke Simmons and Jonah & Elliott Cormack, nieces and nephews, a host of friends and co-workers in education.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Claude B. Thomas, Jr (“Brother”), her cousin like a brother, Buddy Randall Venters, special nieces and traveling partners, Helen Howland and Jeannie Thomas.
The family extends their heartfelt thanks to Drs. David Covey, John Henderson, David Hatfield and Mike Justus, the entire teams at Oakdale Nursing Facility and Arkansas Hospice, Unity Health, NorthStar EMS and long-time caregiver, Shirley Guthrie.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 5th @ 11am in the Family Life Center at the Downtown Church. As per her request, this will be followed by a celebration of life reception. Dress will be casual and she would love for her fellow teachers and former students to wear your school shirts, and everyone to wear bright colors. No black!
The family asks that masks be worn.
Memorials may be made to the following in lieu of flowers or plants:
* White County Single Parent Scholarship Fund / Attn: Betty T. "Nanga" Martin Scholarship - P.O. Box 8325 - Searcy, AR 72145
* Camp Wyldewood / Attn: Camper Scholarships in Memory of Betty T. "Nanga" Martin - P.O. Box 1255 - Searcy, AR 72145 or online < https://admin.givapp.com/donate/payment-details?organizationId=BWNKu3q6Tt >
* Haiti Christian Development Project / In Memory of Betty T. "Nanga" Martin - P.O. Box 21119 - Little Rock, AR 72211 or online www.hcdp.kindful.com
Interment will be in the family plot in Lloyd Cemetery in Holcomb, MO.