Martha Riley Spencer, age 91, died peacefully at home on January 11, 2020, surrounded by family while listening to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” She has lived with her daughter, Pat Nunn, for the last seven years in Guntersville.
Martha was truly a coal miner’s daughter, the youngest of seven children born to George and Katherine Fugate Riley. Born on March 1, 1928, in Cow Creek, Kentucky, she grew up in Combs, Kentucky. Her father died when she was four.
Wearing her best red suit, 18-year-old Martha married Estel Spencer, who was 20 years older than she, on June 15, 1946. They lived happily for 25 years in Kings Mills, Ohio, until his death in 1971. Widowed at age 43 years, she concentrated on raising their four children.
After Estel’s death, Martha transitioned from being a homemaker into the working world. Martha was first a cook at Kings High School for four years. Her next endeavor led her to Valley Kitchens where, though she was 5-foot and 100 pounds soaking wet, Martha worked as a Rosie the Riveter making kitchen cabinets until the factory closed in 1990. In fact, the very cabinets hanging in her home were made by her own hands.
When another riveting job wasn’t available, she became popular throughout Warren County, Ohio, as Miss Martha, the greeter at Walmart, for twenty years. She was honored to be the Grand Marshal of the Kings Mills Civic Club Halloween Parade for two years.
Her favorite hobbies included reading, embroidery, quilting, flowers, gardening, and canning the fruits of her labor.
The family lost count of how many times Martha read through the Bible since she would complete it in only 10-11 months. While living in Alabama, she became a voracious reader, checking out and finishing 207 books from the local libraries. She was also a master baker of pies (especially chocolate), fudge, and pin-wheel candy.
Martha is survived by her four children, Jimmy Daryl Spencer of Kings Mills, Ohio, Bobby Lee Spencer (wife Sherri) of South Lebanon, Ohio, Patricia Ann Nunn of Guntersville, and Johnny Ray Spencer of Middletown, Ohio; eight grandchildren: Jimmy Spencer, Jr., Michael Spencer, Bill Spencer, Heather Smith, Stephanie Smith, Angela Spencer, Allison Spencer, and J. C. Spencer; and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 11 until 1 p.m. Eastern time at Oswald-Hoskins Funeral Home in Lebanon, Ohio, on Thursday, January 16. The funeral will be at 1 -p.m. with Pastor Rodney Hedge, of Kings Mills Baptist Church, officiating. Burial will follow at the Deerfield Cemetery in South Lebanon, Ohio.