Jean Katherine Smith Martin

April 5, 1946 – May 5, 2024

Jean Katherine Martin (Smith), 78 of Martinsville, Virginia, passed away on Sunday, May 5, 2024.

Jean was born on April 5, 1946, to William Patrick Martin and Doris Garf Martin in Richmond, Virginia.  Jean graduated from Franklin County High School in 1964.  She served in the U.S. Air Force, and she was stationed stateside during the Vietnam War. Jean moved to Europe, where, among other adventures, she lived on a houseboat, tended bar in Ireland, and worked in a bubblegum factory in the Netherlands.  Jean graduated from Averett University and received her master’s degree from Hollins University. In the decades that followed, Jean taught English at Martinsville High School and at Carlisle School, where she helped start the International Baccalaureate program.

Devoted to her daughter, Megan, and to the students in her high school English classes, Jean was known for her kindness, her compassion, and her love for Shakespeare and poetry. As a teacher, Jean expected the very best from her students and she earnestly supported their efforts to understand and appreciate the most challenging literature. Today, her former students are better writers, citizens, and people because Jean happily and selflessly devoted her career to helping her students become the people she believed that they could be. 

Even in her later years, as age took its toll, Jean’s spirit endured, undiminished; she continued to be as tenderhearted and generous as ever. A fragile person, she saw the fragility in others and, in recognizing that bond, simply wanted to help. 

Jean is survived by her daughter, Megan Smith; her grandchildren, Veronica and Xavier; her brothers, Karl P. Martin and R. Michael Martin; her sister, Sharon Christian; and her nieces and nephews: Forrest Christian, Dare Frey, Morgan Sherman, Emily Patino, Eliza Harner, Alex Martin, Bryan Young, and Kimberly Jones.

A memorial service will be conducted from Flora Funeral Chapel 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, 2024 with Rev. Anthony Budzik and Chaplain Joann Menefee officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages Jean’s friends and former students to consider making donations to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America or to Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care. Her family will receive friends 30 minutes prior to the service at Flora Funeral Service and Cremation Center, Rocky Mount.