Dr. Margaret Martin Gehman, 97, of Harrisonburg, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, at Oak Lea of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. Dr. Gehman was born May 24, 1922, in Hagerstown, Md., and was the daughter of the late J.D. Earl Martin and Edna (Cunningham) Martin.
Margaret received a two-year degree from Eastern Mennonite School (now EMU) in 1942 and her B.S. from James Madison in 1945. She received her M.A. in 1948 and her Ed.D. in 1962 from George Peabody College (now Vanderbilt University). She was the only woman in her doctorate class. Margaret joined the EMU faculty in 1944 and was a Professor of Physical Education and Art through 1987, although she continued teaching a watercolor course until 1996. Margaret was one of the first woman EMU graduates to receive a doctorate degree, and in pursuing her interests often moved past barriers for women.
Margaret was an accomplished watercolorist and held six solo watercolor exhibitions. She also made pottery and donated many of her works of art to various institutions and for charity. Margaret was known for her generous philanthropy and her desire to support organizations close to her heart. She established an Endowment Fund at EMU to support art and physical education majors and was honored with the "Philanthropist of the Year" award in 2005. The Margaret Martin Gehman Art Gallery at EMU was named in her honor.
Margaret provided leadership to a number of church, youth and work camps in the U.S. and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. She also led four American Youth Hostel tours in North America and Europe.
Margaret was known for her energy and enjoyment of physical activities. She was known as "Speedy" for her introduction of speedball to students and for her fast walking around campus and the community.
Margaret was a member of Morning View Mennonite Church where she taught Sunday School.
After her retirement, Margaret enjoyed volunteering and gave of her time to EMU, VMRC, Media Ministries, her church and other agencies.
On July 27, 1967, she married Dr. Ernest G. Gehman, who preceded her in death on June 29, 1988.
Margaret is survived by her stepchildren, Huldah Claude, of Wilmington, N.C., Rachel Metzler (James) of Sarasota, Fla., and Dr. John Gehman (Joy) of Crewe, Va. She is also survived by 21 stepgrandchildren; 27 stepgreat-grandchildren; three stepgreat-great-grandchildren; and eight nieces and nephews.
In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Earl Martin Jr. and Donald Martin, and her sister, Betty Kniss. She was the last surviving member of her immediate family. Margaret was also preceded in death by her stepsons, Daniel Gehman and David Gehman.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, at 2 p.m. at Park View Mennonite Church, 1600 College Ave., Harrisonburg, Va. The family will receive friends before and after the service.
Honoring Margaret's request, her body was donated to the Virginia Anatomical Board.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Margaret Martin Gehman Endowed Scholarship, c/o EMU, 1200 Park Road, Harrisonburg, VA 22802 or VMRC Foundation, Good Samaritan Fund, 1491 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.
Those wishing may sign an Online registry at www.mcmullenfh.com.
McMullen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.