Willard Martin, a long-time resident of Aberdeen, N.C. transitioned peacefully on Monday evening at his residence in Aberdeen. He was 86, and was an active member of Saint Joseph AME Church of Aberdeen.
Born in Ellerbe, N.C., he spent most of his adult life in Aberdeen. The son of the late Les and Ella Martin, he was preceded in death by his wife, Beulah Charles Martin.
Willard was reared on the family farm and, during his early employment, he worked as a chauffeur for a well-known novelist and writer who resided in Southern Pines. As a chauffeur, he was able to hone his skills as a cook and waiter. These skills served him well when he purchased what would become Martin’s Grill on US 1 in Aberdeen. Willard and his late wife, Beulah, opened the grill in 1965. Although assisted by Willard, Beulah was the day to day operator of the grill. After Beulah’s death, Willard continued to operate the grill until the onset of his illness in July of this year. It was the joy of his life to work daily at the grill, and greet and serve his many customers.
Following employment as a chauffeur, Willard assumed employment at J.P. Stevens in Aberdeen. After fifty plus years, he retired and was able to spend more time at his grill. Willard, who had always farmed in conjunction with his outside employment, continued to farm tobacco, garden vegetables, potatoes, and various marketable foods. During holiday seasons in particular, local merchants and individuals came to depend upon his collards and sweet potatoes.
His viewing will be on Sunday, November 4, 2018, 3 to 5 pm at Jones and Little Funeral Home, 200 Benjamin Street, Aberdeen, N.C. 28315.
Funeral services will be held Monday, November 5, 12:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s #1 Free Will Baptist Church, 3347 US Hwy 220, Ellerbe, NC 28338.
Survivors include one daughter, Ella Marie Martin, two sons, Ronald Martin and Willard Martin Jr, a sister Henrietta Wheeler, two brothers, Earlon Martin, Larry Leslie Martin, two daughters-in-law, one granddaughter, three grandsons, great grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.