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Terri S.
Democrat AL 7

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  • Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Jean T. Martin

    by Representative Terri A. Sewell

    Posted on 2013-03-14

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    SEWELL of alabama in the house of representatives Thursday, March 14, 2013 Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and pay tribute to the life and legacy of Mrs. Jean T. Martin, a beloved Alabamian who passed away on March 11 in Selma, Alabama at the age of 89. As a dedicated public servant, Jean Martin was known in our local community as the long-serving Selma City Councilwoman, an avid local historian, and a gifted journalist. Gracious and proud of her Selma roots, Jean was the personification of a southern belle. Personally, Jean Martin was a close family friend and a trusted mentor. I am deeply saddened by her passing but I am comforted in knowing that her legacy will live on through the countless life lessons she taught me and so many others.

    Mrs. Jean Martin was born in Selma on September 9, 1923. She attended Dallas Academy and was a graduate of Albert G. Parrish High School. Jean later met and married army serviceman Phillip David Martin. While the young couple would live many places both home and abroad, Jean and her husband would soon find their way back to her beloved Selma.

    Upon her return to Selma, Jean worked at Craig Air Force base in accounting, finance and personnel. She would remain at Craig Field until its closing. Her next career move would catapult Jean to her status as a gifted writer and journalist. She began working as a community editor for the Selma Times Journal. Jean had a special way of writing that brought to life the sights, sounds, and people that she covered in Selma, Dallas County and surrounding areas. Jean Martin would continue to work for the Selma Times Journal for the rest of her life. For more than 30 years, she served in various capacities at the newspaper and was Life & Style editor emeritus at the time of her death.

    Jean Martin was also an exemplary public servant. She served on the Selma City Council from 1996-2008, representing Ward 3 and eventually becoming the Council's President pro tem. During her tenure, she was an exceptional servant leader who passionately advocated for her constituents making an indelible mark on our community.

    Jean Martin will also be remembered for her wealth of knowledge about Alabama history and friendly disposition as the long-serving curator and founding board member of the Old Depot Museum. Through her efforts at the museum, Jean became a trusted historian, steadfastly preserving the rich history of her beloved city of Selma. Jean was involved in numerous community organizations--a founding member of Cahaba Concern; an active member and officer of the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society; Chair of Selma's annual Pilgrimage; a board member of the Cahaba Center for Mental Health and Mental Retardation; and a board member for the State advisory board for the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel. Jean also served on various advisory committees for the Alabama Historical Commission.

    On a personal note, Jean Martin served with my mother Nancy Gardner Sewell on the Selma City Council and was a beloved colleague and close family friend. My brothers and I affectionately called her ``T Jean.'' She was an amazing mentor and role model to me and I credit my love of community to her extraordinary example. I know that in Congress I stand on her shoulders because Jean Martin broke so many glass ceilings as a strong woman who gave generously and led nobly. I will miss her wise counsel and advice dearly. While we grieve the loss of this beloved member of our community, let us strive to emulate her example of public service and carry on her efforts to make the Selma and Dallas County a better community.

    Jean Martin was a phenomenal woman who used her substantial talents and abilities to better the lives of those she served. On behalf of the 7th Congressional District, the State of Alabama, and this Nation, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring the life and legacy of my beloved mentor Mrs. Jean T. Martin.


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