Martha Caroline Newton Law died peacefully at her home on Lookout Mountain, Tn., on May 9, 2012 and would have been 97 on Mother's Day.
She was born on May 13, 1915 in the Hardwick-Hogshead Building on Fountain Square in Chattanooga and was the eldest daughter of Emmett Stanford Newton, originally of Jefferson County, Mississippi, and Tensas Parish, Louisiana, and of Frances Hardwick Newton, originally of Dalton, Ga.
Martha, affectionately known as "Teeta," was predeceased in 1981 by her husband of 40 years, local business executive and noted residential architect Halbert G. (Hobby) Law. Martha was educated at Greeta Wert Elementary School on Vine Street, Girls Preparatory School, the University of Chattanooga and King Smith Studio School in Washington, DC (studying theater and art at the latter).
Martha is survived by her son, Halbert Grant (Barb) Law, Jr., of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; her daughter, Frances Newton (Sissy) Law, of Islamorada, Florida; her sister Frances Hardwick (Hardie) Newton of Madison, Virginia; her grandson, Emmett Newton Law of Lookout Mountain; her grandson, Emerson Matthews Brown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; six nieces and nephews; and her dog Tucker.
Martha was a deeply devout, longtime parishioner of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Episcopal, on Lookout Mountain. For many years, Martha lovingly supervised the Flower Guild and the Grounds Committee at Good Shepherd, quietly adding her special, gifted artistic touch to the beauty of both the Sunday services and the church grounds. One close Episcopalian friend noted that, even in her later years, "she could spot a candle askew or a flower out of place on the altar from her weekly perch in the back pew, Gospel side, at the early communion service." Martha was also a key contributor in planting the public parks on Lookout Mountain, in particular the Town Commons, and she helped create the Lookout Mountain Beautification Fund. Gardening was a lifelong passion and love of Martha's, and she shared her mostly self-taught horticultural and flower arranging knowledge and talent freely, generously and often, with friends and acquaintances alike, making the creation of the simple, elegant beauty of her flower arrangements look easy.
Martha had quite the green thumb and took great pleasure in working at home for long hours in her yard, flower beds, greenhouse and woodland gardens, keeping her trusty yardman worn out, working with him side-by-side, even well into her nineties. Martha had been President of the Garden Club of Lookout Mountain, a member of the Board of Directors of the Garden Club of America, a noted exhibitor in flower shows of the Garden Club of America (Zone IX), the Philadelphia Flower Show, and the Chelsea Flower Show in England. It is thought that Martha was the first member of the Garden Club of America to exhibit and win a ribbon at Chelsea. In addition, Martha quietly and effectively chaired both the Flower Show Committee and the Judging Committee, each for two year terms, for the Garden Club of America, personally re-writing the entire Flower Show and Judging Guide during her tenure. Martha was honored by the Garden Club of America with the Harriet D. Puckett Award for Creativity and the Katharine T. Cary Medal for achievement in the field of flower arrangement education. She also was honored to teach flower arranging classes for The Episcopal Church at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Martha was particularly fond of and adept at creating the minimalism, elegant simplicity and sublime beauty of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging and was an inspiring teacher. With the late Sherry Caldwell, Martha co-authored Down to Earth a brief, monthly "how to" gardening guide for the Southern Highlands area of America, which continues to be in print ever since the original 1974 publication date.
As a young woman, Martha acted in plays at the Little Theater. Her community volunteer service included, but was not limited to, Chair of the (then) Hunter Gallery of Art, President of the Junior League of Chattanooga, the Juvenile Court Commission, Reflection Riding and the Lookout Mountain Conservancy. She was also quite a talented scratch cook, and her friends particularly prized the receipt of one of her deadly-delicious chocolate rum cakes. Martha added beauty and joy to our lives and unselfishly, humbly enriched our community and beyond with her caring and giving nature, never seeking the limelight during her lifetime of service. Martha's long and productive life was a true blessing to her family, friends, acquaintances and community. Special thanks go to her internist John Laramore, M.D., to her surgeon Andrew Rittenberry Jr., M.D. (who saved Martha's life in emergency surgery almost three decades ago, late one Christmas night), to her numerous caregivers and medical professionals from Alexian Home Health, McCallister Personal Care Service and Hospice of Chattanooga.
A memorial service/celebration of life will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Episcopal, on Tuesday, May 15, with visitation at 3 p.m. and the service at 4 p.m. The Reverend Robert T. J. Childers will be presiding.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either the Lookout Mountain Beautification Fund; the Church of the Good Shepherd, Episcopal, for grounds beautification; the Reflection Riding Land Trust or the Lookout Mountain Conservancy.
Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory.
It is particularly fitting that Martha lived to enjoy one final, spectacular spring season (her favorite) surrounded by her flowers and gardens that she had tended and loved so much and that her remains will be committed to rest in eternal peace in Lookout Mountain soil. Burial will be private.
Visit www.heritagefh.com to share words of comfort to the family.
Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory, 7454 East Brainerd Road.