Martha Swintz Watkins

Martha Swintz Watkins, of Sunnyside Retirement Community, died peacefully early in the morning of June 7, 2021.

Martha could be found almost until her last days sitting in a chair, glasses perched on the end of her nose working the New York Times crossword puzzle. She loved words and reading, being a fan of books, she remarked, “Weren’t high literature, but a heckuva a lot of fun to read.” She revealed this love in her work as a public librarian at the Iredell County Public Library for many years.

Martha loved music, playing piano from childhood and also the organ. While her husband, John, worked as a pastor, she would assist him, providing music in some of their smaller congregations. The highlight was when John served the Unexpected Presbyterian Chapel near Lexington, Va., and she played the organ, disturbing the mouse who lived inside it, entertaining the congregation as it ran from the organ every time a crescendo played.

Martha was born in South Bend, Ind., on May 5, 1933, to a remarkable couple, Robert and Jesse Swintz, both of whom imparted their creativity, imagination, love of music, and curiosity to their daughter. Martha married John Miller Watkins of Oak Park, Ill., on March 19, 1955, remaining with him until her death, 66 years. They met 70 years ago in a college chemistry class—fitting since their chemistry together lasted a lifetime!

Martha was a devoted mother of two sons, John and Robert. She shared her love of words with them, encouraging both of them to explore writing and deep reading. Her eldest son, John, shared her love of music, and when he was young, they could be seen and heard in the living room swapping songs back and forth. Her youngest, Robert, fell in love with writing, starting with writing plays with Martha when he was little.

Martha was preceded in death by her son, John, who died in March of 2012. She is survived by her husband, John, of Sunnyside Retirement Community; her son, Robert, and daughter-in-law, Alison, of Charlotte, N.C.; grandchildren, Katrina Forbes, of Goldsboro, N.C., Perry Watkins of Washington, D.C., and Chelsea Watkins of Waynesville, N.C.; and great-grandchild, Cole Forbes, of Goldsboro, N.C.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 10, 2021, at the Meredith Chapel at Sunnyside Retirement Communities.

Memorials may be made to Meredith Chapel of Sunnyside Retirement Community.

Condolences may be shared at

(0) entries

Sign the guestbook.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.