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Willie Mae Martin
June 24, 1927 ~ August 29, 2023 (age 96) 96 Years Old
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Ms. Willie Mae Martin was born on Friday, June 24, 1927, to the proud parents of William and Ida Mae Martin in Thomasville, GA.
Affectionally known as “Bill” amongst family and friends she was child number 7 out of 11 brothers and sisters. The number 7 represents “completeness” and Willie Mae was often one to
provide completeness to those who knew and loved her.
Willie Mae “Bill” attended Thomas County schools and graduated from the renowned Douglass High School after completing the 11th grade in 1945. She would often tell the story of how her
segregated high school didn’t offer 12th grade like the “other” schools in the county. An example of the sign of the time and a systematic way to provide advantages for students who didn’t look
After high school she moved to Columbia, SC to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse by attending Allen University and Good Samaritan’s Nursing programs. A career in nursing caught
her attention at an early age when she would ride with her mother to work at Archbold Hospital, in Thomasville. The nurses fascinated her with their stately uniforms, commanding presence and helping patients.
After completing her studies, she moved back to Thomasville and fulfilled her childhood dream by becoming one of the first African American Registered Nurses to work at Archbold; she was
assigned to the Medical and Surgical Unit for 2 years.
After Archbold, she relocated to Nashville, TN and began working at Meharry Hospital. While there she met one of her very best friends (Madeline Golden), the two made a pact about where they wanted to live after their time at Meharry. The agreement was to live in Detroit, MI for six months per Madeline’s request and then move to Los Angeles, CA for 6 months per Willie Mae’s wish. They never made it to California and the (6) month visit to the “Motor City” became a 70-year residency.
Willie Mae quickly established herself in Detroit. Professionally, she began working at Kirwood hospital and then Receiving Hospital as a nurse in their Pediatrics Department. She met Mr. Hillary Ferguson, and tried her hand in marriage and became a member of the prestigious St. Paul A.M.E Zion church under the guidance of Dr. William C. Audrey.
Willie Mae had a passion for a lot of things…her biggest passions were her family, traveling the world and continuing her education. There was nothing she enjoyed more than bringing back
souvenirs, showing pictures and sharing stories about all the adventures and exciting things that she had seen. When we say she was a global traveler, we’re talking about someone who
has visited 6 out of the 7 continents, with the seventh continent being Antarctica.
When it came to her family and friends there was nothing she wouldn’t do. Her home on Greenway was known as the place to be for delicious meals, laughs and the backdrop for a good time. She took pride in doing for others and living by her motto, “You’re helped by helping others”.
Her passion for continuing education and stressing its importance to loved ones was a message you would often receive. While working at Receiving Hospital she continued her education and got accepted into Wayne State University’s Nurse Anesthetist program in 1962. Upon completion and passing state exams she earned the distinguished title of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). This designation further propelled her medical career with stops at Boulevard General Hospital and ultimately Henry Ford Hospital, where she worked for 28 years until her retirement in 1994.
In retirement Will Mae loved to serve at her beloved St. Paul A.M.E Zion Church. She served in various capacities, most notably as a Missionary, President of the Parent Body, member of the Deaconess Board and Lay Council. One of her proudest moments was being inducted into St. Paul A.M.E Zion Church’s Wall of Fame in 2007, a recognition for her devoted and dedicated
Willie Mae Martin transitioned to be with her Lord and Savior on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at the beautiful age of 96 years old at Henry Ford Hospital.
Willie Mae is survived by her youngest brother, Mr. Humphrey Avon Martin (Sandra), her nephew(son), Mr. A. Clinton Tyler-Martin (Natalie) and her niece (granddaughter) Amia Tyler- Martin and a host of loving nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.