Martha Jean RidleyMarch 16, 1925 ~ October 12, 2017 (age 92)
Martha Jean Ridley (nee Ninke) of South Haven, a fiercely loved wife, mother and grandmother, passed away at home on October 12, 2017. She was 92 years old, and will be incredibly missed. Born in March 1925, Martha was one of 10 children. She was raised a hard worker, a trait that carried through her adult life. She worked at each task diligently, always seeing it through to completion. If it wasn't done well enough, she would do it over again.
As a teenager, she left the family farm to live in town, working for room and board so she could complete her high school education. The week after earning her diploma, she started as a billing clerk and secretary at S.E. Overton Company.
She met her husband, Lawrence Ridley, accidentally: She'd planned a date with another boy, but after meeting Lawrence at a friend's home, canceled her date and went with him instead. She loved Lawrence for his kindness. Newly out of the Air Force as a World War II flight engineer, he had steady work and was dependable, polite and fun to be around. In turn, he told her she was "neat and good-looking." They dated two months before he popped the question on November 1, 1945, telling her, "If I asked you to marry me, what would you say?'"
They were married two weeks later; she wore a soft green suit and a hat with a white orchid, they celebrated with a family dinner and, in a post-war America with a poor car and tires, honeymooned in Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo. Lawrence, 94, would have celebrated his 72nd anniversary next month with his "Mart."
They lived in town before building a home at Jericho Corners and later on Baseline Road in South Haven, where she raised her family, welcomed grandchildren and great-grandchildren and lived the rest of her life. She has three adored children: Larry (Linda) Ridley of Drummonds, Tenn.; Beverly (Jory) Holmes of Naples, Fla.; and Annette (Jerry) Koller of South Haven.
Her kids would often debate who might be the favorite. They all held the title.
As a child, she favored the icons of her time: "Gone With the Wind;" Clark Gable; Shirley Temple and Loretta Young; the Little Orphan Annie radio show; and the song "Sentimental Journey." She loved winter and Christmas, but equally adored the daffodils of spring, the warm summer days and the turning colors of autumn.
She was a tedious present un-wrapper, delicately maneuvering the paper so as to salvage it for later. She loved magazine, crafts and crochet; on Easter, she would spend hours delicately blowing out eggs and creating beautiful and intricate designs on their shells before hanging them on her egg tree.
In a sentence, she was someone people wanted to be with.
With little money, she made a happy and comfortable home for her children. Her sons- and daughter-in-law loved her like their own mom. Her grandchildren would for no reason at all; she once hosted three at once, coming dangerously close to losing her patience and evoking the statement, "I will NEVER do that again."
She requested that we not list every grandchild's name in her obituary because it just "takes up space." We are not honoring her wishes. Martha was a cherished grandma to Larry (Marcie) and Steven (Kim) Ridley; Sarah (David) Skipper; Erin (Chad) Brooks; Lindsey (Chris) Doty; and Jordan (Dana), Daniel (Janine), Stephen (Brandi) and Jared (Lauren) Koller. She was a great-grandmother to 13 and great-great grandmother to two. She also is survived by a sister, Beatrice Marcucci of Chicago, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Martha lived a long and blessed life. In her honor, we ask that you take a moment to truly enjoy the world as she did every day: Admire a flower. Bask in the color of the fall leaves. Listen to the song of a bird. Enjoy a dish of ice cream.
Visitation will be held from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Monday, October 16, 2017 at the Filbrandt Family Funeral Home in South Haven. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 with Pastor Jerry Koller officiating at the funeral home. Contributions may be made in Martha’s memory to the First Baptist Church, 1635 76th St, South Haven, MI 49090. Martha will be laid to rest at McDowell Cemetery in Casco Township.