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home : obituaries : obituaries May 24, 2016

11/30/2012 8:00:00 AM
Martha J. Wagoner
Aug. 11, 1916 - Nov. 29, 2012
Martha Wagoner
Martha Wagoner

Martha J. Wagoner, 96, Talma, passed away at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 at her residence.

She was born on Aug. 11, 1916, on a farm near Gilead, the daughter of Jesse and Judel (Alspach) Norman. Martha was the fifth child of 14 children, eight boys and six girls.

On Feb. 20, 1937, she married Claude Wagoner in Crown Point. He preceded her in death on June 7, 1987. They lived near Macy until 1948, when they moved to Talma. They had three children, Norman, Nettie, and Jesse.

Martha was a 1934 graduate of Gilead High School and an active member of the Talma United Methodist Church. She was widely known as a weaver. She was also an avid reader, gardener and assisted her husband of 50 years with the farming.

Martha is survived by her son, Norman (Lane) Wagoner, Sheridan; two granddaughters, Rose Ann (Tracy) Shull and Joyce (Terry) Shepherd, Warsaw; five grandsons, Larry Fisher, Paige, Texas, Robert Fisher, Bourbon, Mark (Denise) Fisher, Rochester, Russell (fiance Kirstin) Wagoner, Noblesville, and David Wagoner, Arcadia; three brothers, David (Grace) Norman, Macy, Roy Norman, Warsaw, and Oren (Ruth) Norman, Akron; three sister-in-laws, Evelyn Wagoner, San Francisco, Calif., Frances Norman, Wabash, and Rose Wagner, Warsaw; 18 great-grandchildren; eight great-great grandchildren; four stepgranddaughters; 14 great-stepgrandchildren; one great-great-stepgrandson; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Claude; daughter, Nettie Fisher; son, Jesse Wagoner; sisters, Nina Murphy, Wilma Gross, Ruth Byrers, Audria Fouts, Irene Powell; brothers, Ernest, Glen, Alva, Kenneth, and Charles Norman; and son-in-law, Larry Fisher.

Funeral services will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, at Zimmerman Bros. Funeral Home, Rochester, with the Reverend Randy Smoot officiating.

Friends may call from 2-6 p.m. Sunday and one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.

Burial will be in the Mt. Zion Cemetery, Rochester.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hope Hospice of Fulton County, Amazing Grace Caregivers c/o First Source Bank, 516 Main Street, Rochester, or the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012
Article comment by: Angela Gunnels, Hancock

I was so sadden to see that our dear Mrs. Wagoner of Talma had passed away. She is and will always be dearly missed by many. Mr. & Mrs. Wagoner has and will always will hold a special place in my heart. I remember as a child going over to their home and watching her make her rugs on an old weaving loom that she used and had still used till she had passed. I was so interested in the way she had always done things like she was living in the 1700s. She brought a new meaning to a "simple woman" She was a very knowledged in how to do many things the simple way in life and I looked up to her as I grew up and still do today. I also remember going out to the barn with Mr. & Mrs Wagoner and I watched them as they would their cows and do their daily chores. My sisters, brother and cousins would spend many many hours at the Wagoners playing on an old tire swing that Mr. Wagoner had over by the pond and we had many many days and evenings of laughter and good times full of leaning with the love that Mr. & Mrs. Wagoner had for us all as the neighborhood kids. Rest in peace Mrs. Wagoner for you are now with our Lord and reunited with your wonderful Husband. You both are and will forever be sadly missed.

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Article comment by: Janie Teel

I wrote this article about Mrs Wagoner in Dec, 2009 for the Warsaw Times Union. She was a remarkable woman. She will be dearly missed by her family and friends.
Last month I visited, Martha Wagoner from Talma. She is 93 years old. When I knocked on her door, no one seemed to be home but I found her in her big vegetable garden several hundred feet from her house. She was out picking peppers and popcorn! She grows the heirloom sweet peppers from saved seed. She was picking them in a coal bucket and gave some of them to me. I will save seed to plant next year. She also had a big area of sweet potatoes yet to be dug (she grows her own rooted sprouts from saved large sweet potato tubers with eyes) tomatoes were almost finished, and a patch of big turnips. She let me pick some to take home with me. They were fun to pick with the big purple tops sticking out of the ground. She planted just two, 10 cent packets ~Purple Top White Globe~ and had a nice-sized crop. She said to plant them in July.
"Plant turnips the end of July, wet or dry."

She gave me sprigs of lettuce that had gone to seed from heirloom lettuce called "Deer's Tongue". She said to shake the seeds into a brown paper bag and plant next Spring. These seeds are for sale in Park Seed Catalog. For a free catalog, call: 1-800-213-0076.
This heirloom lettuce has been an American favorite since at least 1740!

Mrs Wagoner showed me an old bathtub on the south side of her house, built up with one row of boards on the sides where she starts some of her vegetable seeds. She has a glass window frame she lays over it. She has used this for many many years.

I felt honored when she took me to her shed out back and gave me a handful of shallots or scallions that she had been been growing for years. The original ones were from her mother's garden! Will I, a novice at growing them, be able to continue this tradition in my own garden? She said to plant them in the Fall, in a sunny area in well-drained soil before the ground freezes and use them in the Spring and Summer but save some smaller bulbs for re-planting. She also gave me several starts of Fern-leafed peonies. This kind lady will come to mind as they bloom year after year. Unlike me, she is satisfied with just a few heirloom perennials. She has lots of peonies and poppies. I seem to want every kind of perennial there is and never leave a nursery without a new plant.

By the way, Martha Wagoner, has her own home business of making and selling woven rag rugs. You would be welcome to stop in and purchase a rug or other woven item. I bought two woven clothespin bags from her. There is a sign in her yard south side of Talma on St Rd 25. She invited me inside her home to see how she makes them on a weaving loom. Stepping into her home was like stepping into a grandmother's home of yesteryear. It still had the vintage linoleum flooring and her home was toasty warm, heated with a wood burning pot bellied stove. It gave me a warm feeling inside also.

So many of us want NEW things and I believe she lives with the motto of 'If it is good enough to be good enough, then it is good enough." Martha Wagoner's frugal ways include saving vegetable seeds from year to year and not having to purchase new seeds. She was raised in a large family where what we call today as 'being green' was not a choice but a necessity.

Even at age 93, she is still encouraging a fellow gardener, me, and living the Master Gardener motto to 'Help others Grow'. I left impressed and remain very inspired. When cold winter winds blow, she will be inside cutting strips of denim and weaving rag rugs, along with shelling her own popcorn to pop. I plan on going back in the spring and learning more from her. Remember last month I said we can learn from older, more experienced gardeners? For sure we do learn!

I will send her this article but she will just modestly say it is what she does. She is an example of living a contented, satisfied, unpretentious lifestyle enjoying her work, her life and her family.

When the time comes that she can no longer tend her Talma garden, there will be a noticeable empty spot, not just in the garden area but in the people's hearts that know her. She is absolutely one of the Master's gardeners!

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