Published: February 2, 2013
Martha Willett, 86, of Russellville, went home to Jesus on Thursday, January 31, 2013, at the Arkansas Hospice River Valley Home. Martha was born Martha Jane Wayland on October 24, 1926, to Bess Durfee Wayland and Clarence Charles "Charlie" Wayland.
After graduating from high school in 1944 in Parkin, Arkansas, she went to Arkansas Tech College in Russellville, and majored in Aviation (yep, Amelia Earhart was her heroine. She actually got to fly the plane with her instructor abroad). However, her true love at Tech was Paul Joseph Willett, a sophomore pre-med student. They married on January 17, 1945. Paul was drafted into the army shortly after they married, and Martha discovered she was pregnant; so their time as Tech students ended mid-term in 1945. While Paul was completing his Officer Training, Martha had their daughter, Martha Diane Willett (E.R. Durham). Knowing that his Army reserve unit would be called up due to the Korean War, Paul joined the regular Army and was deployed to Paris France.
Martha loved being an Army Officer's wife. She was always active in the Officer's Wives Club and volunteered for charitable causes like the Red Cross. When Paul was posted to Tech's ROTC program, Martha learned to play golf and, though never a great golfer, she loved the sport and played it into her eighties.
Being an Army wife allowed Martha to live in Europe on two different occasions for a total of six years, and in Hawaii for 1 1/2 years. She loved traveling through Europe and around the Hawaiian islands. She traveled extensively throughout the United States, particularly in the Pacific North West where she and Paul lived for 18 months. She loved Seattle, and visited her daughter there often.
After Paul retired, Martha and he settled in Russellville, living immediately across the road from the golf course. For years, Martha was a very active member of the Russellville Country Club Ladies Club Association, even serving as its President. She was also a member of the Russellville First United Methodist Church.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, her parents, and her sister, Jennie Lee Wayland Moore and her husband, Fred. Also, she was predeceased by numerous greatly cherished dogs and cats. Survivors include her daughter, M. Diane Willett of Seattle, Washington; and several nephews and nieces, including John Robert Willett and his wife, Connie, Eddie Willett and his wife, Cindy, Maria Willett and her husband, Cory Frisch, T.R. Willett and his wife, Liz, Beth Willett High and her husband, Tony, Randy McCollum and Pat Ward.
The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 2, 2013, at the Shinn Chapel, officiated by the Rev. Gail Brooks. Family and friends will be invited to share their favorite memories of Martha. Burial will be in Rest Haven Memorial Park, by Shinn Funeral Service of Russellville.
The family will receive friends on Saturday, from 1 p.m. until service time, at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 2405 East Parkway, Suite 3, Russellville, Arkansas 72802, or to the donor's favorite pet care center. The online obituary and guestbook are available at www.shinnfuneral.com.