Martha Perry Gwyn

GwynMartha Perry Gwyn, 96, on September 5, 2020, following a short battle with COVID-19 at the Carol Woods Retirement Home in Chapel Hill, N.C. Martha was born on December 4, 1923, at home in Thorntown, Ind., the daughter of Winifred and Herschel Peery. She helped on the family farm, began school in a two-room schoolhouse, and attended the Sugar Plain Friends Church across the road from the farm. Her teenage years included memberships in the Future Farmers of America and the Sunshine Club. Martha received a bachelor’s degree (Latin) from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. Following graduation, Martha taught school in Indiana. She earned a master’s degree (theology) from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn., as well as a master’s degree (social work) from Tulane University in New Orleans, La. Martha worked with World War II refugees, taught at the Ramallah Friends School (then in Jordan), and worked for the YWCA in Houston, Tex.

In 1956, at the Live Oak Friends Meeting in Houston, Tex., Martha met and married Robert Gwyn. After they married, they moved to Carbondale, Ill., where Martha worked for the child welfare department. Martha and Robert gave birth to their first son, Christopher, and adopted Sara, their first daughter. While living in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and then Muncie, Ind., they adopted Rachel, Gregory, Nicholas, Brian, and Hannah. After the family moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1967, they adopted Rebecca.

Martha and Robert lived their beliefs with integrity, always striving to make the world better. A life-long member of the Society of Friends, Martha was an integral part of the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Meeting, and served on the board of Carolina Friends School. Martha and Robert were frequent participants in anti-Vietnam War vigils at the Chapel Hill Post Office. They were among the founding homeowners in the Lockridge Community in Orange County, N.C., where they personally built a much-admired three-dome home. Martha loved the two years that she and Robert spent as caretakers at a small bed and breakfast run by the Honolulu (Hawaii) Meeting. After her children were grown, Martha increased her time spent volunteering with the Chapel Hill Interfaith Council, American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, the Democratic Party, and more. Martha is missed by the people whose lives she touched. They will long continue her loving legacies.

Martha is survived by seven of her children, Christopher Gwyn, Sara Gwyn, Rachel Gwyn, Gregory Gwyn (Karen), Rebecca Gwyn McQuoid (Douglas McQuoid), Brian Gwyn (Beth Thornton), and Hannah Gwyn; ten grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert and her son Nicholas.

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