Passages: Martha Stelling Christian, BSN’43

Advocate for Children

Martha and Richard Christian in 2008 (COURTESY MARGARET POPE)


Martha Stelling Christian of Fripp Island, S.C., died Oct. 22, 2013. She was 92. A native of Augusta, Ga., she married her husband, Dr. Richard Morton Christian, BA’39, MD’42, in 1943 during her senior year at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. A short time later, after her husband was called to active duty in the U.S. Army Mobile Medical Corps in the European Theater, Martha began work as a home-health nurse in the mountainous backwoods of Tennessee.

In 1950 they moved to Greenwood, S.C., where she became active in school and community affairs. She initiated a vision screening program for all elementary-school students and secured glasses and medical care for those in need. She also began a reading program for elementary-school students in order to ensure that all children could read at their proper levels. Additionally, she assisted her daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Christian, as her nurse in Walterboro, S.C.

The couple retired to Fripp Island in 1991. She was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Beaufort, where she continued her community outreach through Martha’s Animals, which provides a homemade stuffed animal to each child who visits a local hospital emergency room.

Her husband died in 2010. She is survived by their four children and eight grandchildren.

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