Emma Lash Martin, an advocate for Morristown’s Neighborhood House and AIDS victims, has died

Emma Lash Martin. Photo courtesy of Bethel A.M.E. Church


From the Bethel A.M.E. Church:

Emma Lash Martin passed quietly in her sleep early Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Laurel, Md. She was 84.

Emma, or “Ms. Emma” as she was sometimes affectionately called, was born in Winston Salem, NC, but was a long-time resident of Morristown.

After graduating from North Carolina College (later named NC Central University) in 1957, she married her college sweetheart, Richard D. Martin of Morristown.

Upon moving to Morristown, she joined Bethel AME Church in Morristown under the leadership of Rev. Samuel S. Singleton. She enjoyed singing hymns with the Greater Bethel Choir as well as playing the piano.

That same year, Carmetta Meade hired Ms. Emma to assist her with moving the Neighborhood House (“The Nabe”) from its original location to its new facility and expanding the program offerings, including an accredited nursery school.

She was known to be humorously stern and had a stare that would stop kids in their tracks! She retired in 1980 to devote more time to her other interests.

Ms. Emma’s greatest joy was watching her daughter Tammi play basketball for Morristown High School. Three of the four years (1976-1980) that Tammi played, the team won the the Morris County Championship.

Emma could be heard from the seats whenever Tammi scored, grabbing whatever or whomever was next to her.  She, along with the other basketball mothers, traveled to all the games and could be found coaching, cheering and even refereeing from the stands. Thus, her love for basketball began.

Her greatest and most rewarding passion in Morristown was founding and helping the community during the HIV/AIDS crisis. She helped established the Bethel ANGELS (AIDS Network Giving Education Love and Support), out of a personal need when the disease directly affected her family.

She ministered to the needs of the infected and affected in the Morris County area by encouraging others to help make and distribute AIDS quilts for infants and toddlers whose lives were ravished by the disease.

Under Emma’s leadership, the Angels organized retreats, workshops and seminars to educate the residents of the County about prevention and protection from the disease. Her work with the Eric Johnson House in Morristown and Hope House of Dover became her sole mission and purpose during the most prevalent and devastating times of HIV/AIDS.

Each year the ANGELS would host the National AIDS quilt to bring awareness to the epidemic. The ANGELS have three living memorial Quilts that travel around the world through the NAMES Foundation.

Locally, infected/affected residents received yearly Christmas gifts and food delivered to their homes via “The Angels.”  When partnering with the National Balm in Gilaed Inc., Emma realized her life mission and purpose and professed to show the love of Christ through helping and living out Matthew 25:35-36.

Emma also helped to establish The Junior Matrons of Morristown in 1959 and remained active in the North Carolina Central University Alumni NJ Chapter as well as the Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority.

Among her many interests, Emma loved playing bid whist, arranging flowers at the Table of Hope and being surrounded by family and friends.

She is predeceased by her parents, Aldean and Julia Lash; and in 2013 by her late husband Richard D. Martin, who served as executive director of the Morris County Urban League, president of the Morristown Rotary Club and owner of the Post War Club Tavern. Emma is survived by her daughter, Tammi L. Martin, of Lanham, MD.

A family-and-friends fellowship will be held Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at Bethel AME Church in Morristown at 10 am, followed by a Memorial service at 11 am.

In addition to flowers, expressions of sympathy also can be made through a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, P.O Box 96011, Washington DC 20090-6011, or 800-272-3900 or alz.org on behalf of Emma L. Martin.

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