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The pride I felt Saturday was no match for the beaming face of my mother who was honored for her 65 years of service to the Roanoke Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church as its treasurer.

That’s 65 years without an audit exception, without a reprimand by the Carolina Conference of SDAs. In short, it was precise, accurate work by a woman who painstakingly began keeping the books of the church on a ledger and eventually graduated to doing the work on a computer.

Margaret Martin’s service began when the church was located on Carolina Avenue at the intersection of Tenth Street, a little green chapel which gave me my first knowledge of Roanoke Rapids.

That church no longer stands but I always look for it, thinking it will reappear. 

Also pictured in the gallery are Pastor Peter Trzinski and Emine Cox

She guided the accounting of the church’s financial records as a new building was erected on Smith Church Road, a sanctuary which was built from bricks from a former school building in Roxobel.

To our estimation, she has served under at least 10 pastors and it wasn’t until late last year that her eyesight began giving her so much trouble that she needed assistance and finally decided it was time to retire after 65 years of immaculate work.

While the plaque given to her Saturday along with a bouquet of flowers and a check was made before it was finally determined she was voted treasurer in ‘56, I won’t quibble with that error. Even 50-plus years is a long time to take that responsibility to handle other people’s money. 

To me, that’s exemplary work from a woman who just this past month turned 95.

She took the job seriously, made sure that 1099s were given out in a timely manner and without fail always applied to the state for the sales tax refund that was due.

She did the church books in much the same way she did her professional job — in a conscientious and thorough manner.

But it wasn’t just her volunteer work that connected her to that small little chapel on Carolina Avenue and then on Smith Church Road.

It has been that unwavering faith in the religion as a whole and her firm faith in the principles taught in the Bible that have sustained her and bolstered her through some trying times — the loss of a son at a young age and then the loss of her husband when I was a young teenager.

There are more of these things that I could dwell on but I want to savor that moment Saturday when a small church recognized her big contributions in making sure it was financially sound and on strong footing.  

She is a charter member of that church and tried to instill in me the values that it taught. While she and I haven’t always agreed on every single piece of doctrine, I believe the values she taught me have stayed with me for a long time.

While holding a business degree, I realized fairly soon that I’m not a numbers person but I try my best to hold the principles she applied to being treasurer to the way I practice journalism — with as much ethics and accuracy as I can muster.

For that and other life lessons she has taught me I am so appreciative. I believe, although she might not always understand me or my sometimes offbeat worldview, it has made me a person who wants to try to be a person who is better than he was the day before.

And for that I can only give her a very warm and heartfelt thank you and one day I would love to do for her all the things she has done for me over the years.

She took this job as treasurer not for the glory or title but because she’s always been good with numbers and found in it a way to give back to a congregation and religion that has meant so much to her over the years.

“I’m not good at making speeches,” she told members and visitors in the fellowship hall, “But I just want you to know that everything I did, I did because I love the church, I love the people and I enjoyed doing the work. It was never drudgery for me.”

To my mother, Margaret Martin, I thank you for taking on that responsibility, while teaching me the many life lessons you have instilled in me.

The pride I have in that moment Saturday will forever be etched in my memory along with your beaming face that day — Lance Martin