Ruth Ellen Martin, Oak Ridge

Ruth Ellen Martin, 80, of Oak Ridge, passed away peacefully on February 11th, 2024 sleeping in her favorite easy chair. Ruth Ellen was born on June 26, 1943, to Edgar and Genevieve Cockrell in Washington, D.C. but they soon relocated to Memphis, TN where the family would grow and prosper. Ruth Ellen would eventually be the oldest of six siblings who remain very close to this day. Ruth Ellen graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Memphis. She met and soon married Richard Austin Martin on April 4th, 1964. From the day they met until his passing after 56 years of marriage, their love burned strong. Even after they were separated in death, their love endured until finally they were reunited in the wee hours of February 11th.

Although she held several positions over her many years such as bank teller, office assistant, and clerk at The Mail Center, her life’s work was to be a mother. With joy, Richard and Ruth Ellen grew their family. Whether through the gift of adoption, the joy of birth, or the welcoming of one that needed a home, they acquired 5 sons. When asked who her favorite was, she would answer, “The one that is sick. The one that is hurting. The one that needs me the most at that moment.” But Ruth Ellen was mother to many more than that. There was always room at her table. She would just add some more water to the soup or cut the roast into smaller pieces, but no one would do without. Everyone loved her lasagna, her fried chicken, and especially her Coca-Cola Cake. Ruth Ellen was a devout, life-long Catholic. She rejoiced in serving others at St. Mary’s Church in Oak Ridge.

She was a member of the Council of Catholic Women, sponsored people coming into the church through RCIA, worked in the parish office, and educated her sons in Catholic school. She was a friend and helper to countless priests and loved cooking for youth retreats. It is impossible to capture in words the impression Ruth Ellen made on those around her. “Shy” is not a word to describe her. At 5’1″ she towered over the tall men in her life. Her laugh could be heard across a crowded room. Her eagle eye rarely missed a thing but, if it did, Mom would always find out. She took the time to get to know people. It mattered little if you were a new neighbor, nurse, or complete stranger in line, Ruth Ellen would soon know about your family, work, and travels. She spoke boldly when others might have stayed quiet and you never had to ask how she felt. Regardless, you knew she loved you.

Ruth Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, Edgar and Genevieve Cockrell, her sister Genevieve Cockrell, her granddaughter Blaise, and her loving husband Richard. She is survived by her brother Harry (Linda), and sisters Betty Jean (Eddie), Mary Virginia, and Sharon; her children Eddie (Karen), Scott (Natalie), Donnie (Cindy), Sam, Joey (Emma); her grandchildren Mackenzie, Kelly, Hannah, Jamie, Grace, Atticus, Jackson, Kinsley, Kyle and Joel; and her great-grandsons Parker and Isaiah. 

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to St. Mary’s Catholic Church (327 Vermont Ave. Oak Ridge, TN 37830) On February 19th, the family will receive friends at St. Mary’s at 1 p.m., a rosary will be prayed at 1:50 p.m., and a funeral mass will follow at 2:00 p.m. A graveside service will be held immediately following the mass at Memorial Gardens in Oak Ridge.

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