Mrs. Jean was a role model for us allPublished 8:38pm Friday, March 15, 2013
This week my heart hurt when I heard the news that The Selma Times-Journal Life&Style editor emeritus, Mrs. Jean T. Martin passed away. Although I have only been a part of the Times-Journal family for seven months, the impact and example she left is one I will cherish for a lifetime.
My first memories of Ms. Jean took place this fall, while working on an assignment covering a Selma resident’s 100th birthday party. It was my fourth day on the job and as I gathered the family together for a group shot around the birthday girl, a short, little woman with white hair and big blue eyes whom I’d never seen before, jumped in front of me and my fancy camera and told everyone to look her way. She was holding a tiny silver point and shoot camera, but no one seemed to mind as they all turned their smiles in her direction.
Mrs. Jean’s presence made an impact that touched everyone in the room. She seemed to have a quiet confidence, and was eager to smile and talk to any and everyone in the room. From that day forward I began to look forward to her Thursday visits to the office when she would stroll in, cane in hand, to turn in her column and story for Sunday’s Life&Style page. For the 20 minutes or more that she was in the building, the entire newsroom was deemed useless as we sat at our desks, enthralled in her stories of the week.
After Mrs. Jean left the office, those of us in the newsroom would wonder just who or what she would run into in the coming week, already looking forward to next weeks’ stories.
This week I had the difficult honor of contacting her friends and family to get comments for a story on her life and what she meant to this community. And after talking with more than 10 different sources, I found Mrs. Jean was a woman who loved Selma, was highly involved with her civic duties and touched the lives of countless individuals.
Everyone loved her. They loved her spirit and enthusiasm for Selma and they regaled of her passion for Selma’s history and her talented way of writing.
Talking with people she worked with years ago, those she grew up with, and those who knew her today, their answers were all the same — Mrs. Jean was an incredible woman, an incredible Selmian and an incredible writer.
I had the opportunity to attend Mrs. Jean’s funeral Thursday and what I saw didn’t surprise me a bit. The sanctuary was packed.
The pews were filled with people of all ages, colors and different walks of life. It was truly inspiring to see how even after she was gone, she was able to bring the people of Selma together. It was evident her love of people had no barriers.
Mrs. Jean’s life and the work she did for this community should be an inspiration to us all, and I hope each of us can adopt some of the passion she had for life.
She is someone who I will continue to look up to in my career. I hope like Mrs. Jean, I am still doing what I love, even when I’m old and my children are grown.
I hope like Mrs. Jean, people remember me not only for my writing, but for my love of people and my love for the community.