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Martha L. Gilliland

Martha L. Gilliland

Martha L. Gilliland of Jacksonville, Florida passed away on Saturday, September 10, 2016.

Born on October 16, 1926 in Collinsville, Alabama to Marvin Bayless Longshore and Sallie Beatrice Appleton Longshore. She was the third of eight children.

She attended Jacksonville State Teachers College in Alabama where she met her husband Burl E. Gilliland. She always said she promised to marry him if he got her through her college math class. They were happily married for 55 years when he preceded her in death January 1, 2004.

After graduating, Martha embarked on a 37-year teaching career—five years in Alabama and 32 years divided between Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Memphis, Tennessee. She won the 1984-85 Distinguished Service Award as a second grade teacher at Riverdale Elementary in Memphis and was quoted as saying “The most important aspect of teaching is to awaken in each child a ‘sense of wonder’ so that as they go through life they will discover and learn the things needed for self-actualization.” Her daughters Carol and Ruth say that in support of this philosophy, the Gilliland family had to collect 30 specimens of unique “wonders” on every vacation so that Martha could give each student a science box of treasures. In 1973 she was also awarded Life Membership in the Tennessee Congress of Parents and Teachers. This honor is reserved for those who have given devoted and distinguished service toward improving conditions under which children grow into adulthood.

A long-time friend said recently that Martha had declared her purpose in life was to leave something meaningful with everyone she met. Upon retirement, her colleagues gave her a painting by Cecelia Lin of two cuddling birds on a tree branch titled “Sharing” which Martha proudly displayed in her living room. It warmed her heart to be recognized for what she loved doing and did so well.

She leaves behind two daughters, Carol Gilliland of Jacksonville, FL and Ruth Gilliland of Los Angeles, CA as well as her sisters Emma Gravitt of Scottsboro, AL and Sara Tucker of Cookville, TX and her brothers Jimmy Longshore of Collinsville, AL and Ronnie Longshore of Canton, GA.

A celebration of life will take place later this year near her husband’s family home on Chandler Mountain in Alabama.

Martha created the Burl E. Gilliland Memorial Scholarship at the University of Memphis to perpetuate her husband’s life work as a counseling and guidance educator. Memorial donations can be made to University of Memphis Foundation , Dept 238, P.O Box 1000, Memphis, Tenn 38148-0001 (with reference to Burl E. Gilliland Scholarship Fund) or by calling 901-678-3953.

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