Friday, February 24, 2012
Finding Mrs. Florence Martin, I finally get to say THANKS!
By Claudia Ricci
It has taken almost 40 years but I finally got the chance to say thanks for a kindness that had a profound impact on my life.
In a post on Tuesday, I wrote about a teacher I had at Brown, Dr. Horace F. Martin, who reached out to help me at a time when I was really struggling during my sophomore year at college. I wrote about the fact that I had never said a proper thank you to him for what he did.
That same day I wrote the tribute, I found out with the help of the Brown Alumni office that Dr. Martin passed away in April, 2010.
I was so sad. I felt so bad that I hadn't tried harder to find him sooner.
For a while it seemed like I had missed my chance to say a proper thank you. But several readers told me I needed to reach out to Dr. Martin's family, that they would be pleased to hear my tribute.
So I did. On Thursday, February 23, I searched for relatives through the obituary. I found one of Dr. Martin's daughters, and left a message. That evening, I received a phone call from Dr. Martin's wife, Florence, and we had such a wonderful conversation.
She told me about the many professional accomplishments Dr. Martin had: he had a Ph.D., an M.D. (which he earned at Brown about the time I was a student), and later, he earned a law degree!
Mrs. Martin says that I wasn't the only student he befriended: "He looked out for many of his students," she said. Mrs. Martin still lives in the home that she and her husband bought in 1978. While she misses her husband dearly, her life is very, very rich in family. In addition to her seven children and their spouses, she has 15 grandchildren, and all but one of them live in the Providence, R.I. area.
It was a thrill to speak to her, and she told me that if I were ever near Pawtucket, where she lives, I have a standing invitation to stop by. I just may do that Mrs. Martin; I'd love to visit with you and share memories of Dr. Martin over a cup of tea. Meanwhile, I promised to print out this post and send it to her by mail.