July 17, 2024 Donate


Martha Ann Turnbow Darr

In Loving Memory of Martha Ann Turnbow Darr

Martha Darr, a beloved mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend, fell asleep in Christ on Friday, May 25, at 1:18 a.m., at the age of 89. Surrounded by family members during her final hours, her departure leaves a heartache no one can heal, but her life leaves memories no one can steal.

Born on January 4, 1935, in Shamrock, Texas, to Adde and Fern Turnbow, Martha was a beacon of love and kindness from the very start. She grew up in Shamrock, where she developed a lifelong passion for quilting and serving others.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Martha never had any sense that her family was in need or want. Her parents modeled love, commitment, excellence, and support for family, to all four of their kids, and they were in turn devoted to both of their parents. Martha desired to honor their memories in both word and deed. Her Dad taught her how to hunt, fish, and be a good friend, while her mother taught her how to cook, sew, serve those in need, and live as a strong, independent woman.

Whether designing and making holiday quilts or mentoring at-risk teen women, she poured her heart into every endeavor, creating beauty and warmth wherever she went.

Martha married the love of her life, Richard Darr I, of Ann Arbor, on October 26, 1954, while they both were employed in the closed government community of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Together, they built a home filled with laughter, compassion, and unending support. As a mother, she embodied patience and grace, always ready with a comforting word or a homemade treat. Her children, Norma, Ron, Gordon, and Tim, were the center of her universe, and she nurtured them with boundless love and encouragement. Her wisdom and gentle spirit have left an indelible mark on their hearts.

After getting married, Richard completed his Air Force tour and entered the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. He began a career in Telecommunications, which had the family moving, in succession, to Cincinnati;  Abilene, Texas; Syracuse, and then Rochester, New York. In 1971 the family moved and built their home in Dexter Township, where Martha and Richard lived out the remainder of their lives. All four kids graduated from Dexter High School, were active in sports and band while enjoying the constant support of their parents. Martha and Richard continued the practice of always showing up to as many activities of their grandchildren as possible. Other kids in the community came to know this couple that were always there, and in time many of them knew them as “MawMaw and PawPaw,” as their adopted grandparents. Eventually, even their great-grandchildren could get used to seeing them in the stands.

While her family was her true life calling, Martha also contributed to the household income after all four children were in school. She brought her cheerful and kind attitude to her workplace, where coworkers came to enjoy her spirit throughout the workday. Most of her career was spent at Ann Arbor Terminals, a computer company based on Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. Her co-worker, Mike Stapleton, recalled, “Martha served as a line supervisor and assembly technician for over a dozen years. She was known to all who worked with her as fair minded, friendly, and extremely competent at her job.  At least once a week, she would provide cinnamon rolls and other pastries from the Dexter Bakery for the benefit of her fellow employees.”

In retirement, Martha was busier than ever, visiting family members across the U.S., usually with one or two grandchildren in tow. She participated in planting a new church, Huron Valley Fellowship, in the Dexter area and became an active member of the Huron River Methodist Church in Dexter. Family gatherings were her favorite times, with her lime salad and orange cake becoming regular favorites. Martha had a knack for bringing people together, her home always open to friends and family, each visit filled with stories, laughter, and the comforting embrace of her hospitality.

A proud Texan, Martha loved sharing treats with her grandkids, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic, when she would put together treat bags for the great-grandkids, drive over to their houses and toss the bags over to the porch. Her support extended to all her children’s pursuits, creating a second home for her grandkids where everyone was welcome. Her Tuesday night spaghetti dinners in the 1990s and early 2000s were a highlight for the entire family, and for decades, she and Richard enjoyed treating family members to dinner out on Friday nights.

Beyond her family, Martha was a cherished friend to many. Her kindness knew no bounds, and her friends often described her as someone who would always be there in times of need, offering a shoulder to cry on or a cheer of encouragement. Her legacy is one of love, kindness, and resilience. She taught us the importance of giving, the joy in simple pleasures, and the strength found in unwavering faith and love.

Martha is survived by her children: Norma Heller (Donny) of Webster Township, Ron Darr (Sandra) of Scio Township, Gordon Darr, of Dexter Township, and Tim Darr (Deva) of Bristow, Oklahoma; her grandchildren: Sandra Genske (Todd) of Webster Township, Becky Houle (Nick) of Whitmore Lake, Mark Plum (Kara) of Harrah, OK, Melissa Groth (Matt) of Webster Township, Hailey Nunamaker (Moe) of Welty, OK, Charlotte Darr (Oliver Jiang), Brian Darr (Julia) of Grass Lake, Caroline Darr of Ann Arbor, and 2nd Lt. Richard Darr III (USSF); and her great-grandchildren: Marissa and Alison Genske, Alan and Walter Groth, Lillie and Laynie Nunamaker, and Clara Mae and Charles Plum. She is also survived by her siblings: Holice Turnbow of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Marilyn Sue Copeland of Amarillo, Texas, and Nancy Simpson of Kathleen, Georgia. She was loved by many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard, and her parents, E.A. and Fern Turnbow.

A celebration of Martha’s life will be held on Monday, June 3, 5-7:00 p.m. (visitation), and Tuesday, June 4, at 10:00am (visitation) and 11 a.m. (funeral) at Huron River Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Hudson Education Center (HEC) at 9500 Island Lake Road, Dexter, 48130, or hecmusic.org, for education scholarships, reflecting her lifelong commitment to the performing arts and youth programs.

She is gone from our lives, but she leaves behind a light that will never fade. We will carry her memory in our hearts forever.