By Theron E. Martin
This eulogy has been delayed for two years because of my grief. My good and faithful wife, Janie Fleniken Martin, passed from this earth on March 28, 1989. Only now can I attempt to praise her before God and men. She was an exceptional Christian and one without guile.
I first remember meeting Janie in high school in the year 1928. We had several classes together and she was a good student, loved by the teachers. We lived at that time in the same general area of Texarkana, Arkansas and I found myself following her home or in that direction, watching her golden hair bounce on her shoulders. I can see the same scene vividly today and in a short while I was carrying Janie’s books. I found her to be a quiet, reserved person and not at all flippant, as was the custom of so many teenage girls of that period. I found myself more and more attracted to her as time passed. We were serious with each other, but not too serious, and both of us continued association with other friends.
After graduating from high school in May 1929, we both became employed, she as a secretary at a local bank and 1 in the service of a railroad. We continued to see each other and after discussion with her on such subjects as family life ‘ children, head of the family and religion, I asked Janie to marry me. The year 1930 had arrived and Janie wished for more time to consider. She was a member of a large family, twelve of whom were still living, and all dedicated to the Baptist faith. They were a good moral family and served God as their conscience dictated. Janie and I had discussed this thoroughly and agreed that we would study the Scriptures together in order to determine how God wanted us to worship in accordance with the gospel of Christ. In July 1930 1 had the courage to ask Janie’s mother, with Janie’s permission, if she would permit our marriage in December 1930. Janie’s mother never answered my request, but arose from her seat and left our presence. My only conclusion was that she was saddened to lose her last child and that when Janie left, the house would be empty. Six daughters and four sons would have left the nest, plus one deceased. We went ahead with our plans, without objection from either of our families, even though we were very young (only nineteen). I had been in the Lord’s church for seven years and was strong in the faith.
Since we had planned our marriage for several months we went ahead with our plans. Janie was to be the homemaker and take care of children. I was to dedicate myself to my family and God and supply the family with their needs. It was a serious day for both of us when we were married by a gospel preacher on December 16, 1930. Jasper N. Reed performed the service at 6 p.m. in the home of Janie with only our immediate family present.
The months went by and I found the girl I had selected was kind, gentle and always spoke quietly. She had always honored her father and mother and had always loved her brothers and sisters. Hers was a good and happy family. Our love increased day by day and in the following years two sons were born to us, the first in October 1931 and the second in July 1936. My job with the railroad resulted in our moving to Marshall, Texas in 1932 and then to Big Spring, Texas in the year 1937. These were depression years and on several occasions we were without money, but being young and full of confidence, we did not worry. Janie did not worry as she knew that Christ taught that we were to give no thought of tomorrow as to what we would wear or what we would eat. She was a happy person and a good mother.
At a gospel meeting at the Lord’s church in Big Spring in March 1938, the visiting evangelist, Trine Starnes, baptized Janie into the church, the kingdom of Christ. It was a glorious day for us as we had pleasantly through the years discussed the mystery of salvation through the obedience to the will of Christ and his apostles. I asked Janie what was said that moved her to make the decision and she replied, “Your steadfastness and the preacher’s explanation of the Scripture 1 Peter 3:21.” This passage says,
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As the years passed, Janie and I continued to grow in knowledge of the Scriptures. We lived in Big Spring eight years and our ministers during that time included Melvin J. Wise and Byron G. Fullerton. Janie was active in the ladies Bible class and took part in all vacation Bible schools. I worked seven days per week and long hours during World War II. Janie continued to be an excellent homemaker and kept close watch over our sons. The boys grew up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and never gave us any bother or apprehension. While there was considerable discipline, the quiet and authoritative voice of Janie, with her love, conquered all problems. While Janie was busy with the home she always had time to send me off to work each morning with a happy face and greeted me each evening with a fresh face, a clean dress and a warm embrace. It was always good to go home because it was a quiet place of rest and personal contact with the family.
We enjoyed working with the church in Commerce, Texas in the years 1945 through 1947. 1 served as deacon under the elders Tom Lafferty and Marvin Allbritton. Willis Jernigan Sr., was our minister. Janie worked in vacation Bible schools several years. Transferred by the railroad in December 1947 to the city of Tyler, Texas, we associated ourselves with the West Irwin Street church. Austin Seibert was minister. Roy Cogdill held meetings while we were there. It was during this time that problems developed in the various congregations (1950-1951). Our two boys were added to the church at Tyler, Texas.
Another transfer took place in July 1951 when I was offered a position in the General Office of the railroad. Janie cried during the night because we had been told the new job was in St. Louis. It had not been good changing the schools so often for our two boys; nevertheless the promotion was good for the family in some respects. We found at St Louis a good, conservative group which stood solid in the truth; it was the Spring and Blaine congregation with minister Truman T. Carney, We had seven years of good doctrinal teaching and preaching at this location under the oversight of elders Eugene Paxson and Eugene Sewell. This is where we adopted the young people of the congregation and had them in our home almost every Sunday night after the evening service. At one time we had a total of thirty-three for snacks, sodas and jovial games. Our boys were at home part of the time and enjoyed the company.
After seven years in St. Louis, the railroad consolidated some departments and moved us to Pine Bluff, Arkansas in July 1958. We worshipped for three years at the West Sixth congregation, with Leonard Tyler as the minister and with elders Jackson and Grace. While here we married off our two sons to girls that had been reared in the church. By example, we think we taught them how a family should exist in the eyes of the Lord. They did well, worked in the church wherever they lived, and gave us four grand-children who have all been baptized into Christ. Janie’s relation with her new daughters-in-law was perfect – a reciprocation of love and trust. She taught them in many respects their responsibility to the family and to their husbands (Eph. 5:33; 1 Pet. 3:6) She taught them to love their husbands (Tit. 2:4-5). She explained to them that their loyalty, time, affections and body belong to their husbands (1 Cor. 7:34). By example Janie taught the younger women that home responsibilities to their husband and children come first. She was a shining example in the preparing of good meals and keeping a clean house which was always a home.
Again the railroad made a consolidation, so Janie and I left Pine Bluff, Arkansas for Houston, Texas. There we found some old St. Louis friends worshipping with the Norhill congregation off North Main. We asked to have our names added to the list of those who worshipped at Norhill in a sound manner without interference from those that would dilute the worship of a true and living God. The treasury of the congregation would be used to preach the gospel and maintain the place of worship. We worked diligently with the minister Oscar Smith, Jr., and the elders Richey, Kelly, Painter, Green and Morris. We performed whatever task we were asked to perform for nineteen years, serving as deacon, working in vacation Bible school, teaching adult classes, leading the singing, calling on the sick and doing benevolent work for our members and widows, plus maintenance work on the plant.
During this time Janie was the perfect host to visiting preachers and elders. We had much fellowship at our house in Houston with fellow Christians. This period of time was July 1961 to July 1980.
After retiring from the railroad, Janie and I decided that we should move to a smaller town and make preparations for a quiet place in the country where we could enjoy each other and grow old gracefully. We moved to Mount Ida, Arkansas after building a small home on four acres. We were twenty-six miles west of Hot Springs. A short time after moving there we lost our preacher, A.T. Wright, in death. The church there was unable to go forward as it should have. Our health problems increased as we grew older. Since there was only one doctor and no hospital nearer than Hot Springs we decided to move to Pine Bluff, Arkansas where our youngest son lived.
We moved in December 1988. Janie’s health continued to decline. The doctors at Pine Bluff were unable to correct any of the health conditions and she died at home one evening in my arms. Her sudden death prevented her from speaking a last good-bye.
After a farewell service by brother Edgar Dye and brother Eddie Randolph at the church building, burial took place in Texarkana, Texas.
The wise man asked, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies?” (Prov. 31:10) Janie was that virtuous woman. I found her and God gave me a helpmeet far superior to me who served her family faithfully for 58 years, 3 months and 12 days. My life on earth was happy with Janie and is almost complete. When she and I meet beyond the river, we pray that he will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants.”
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 9, pp. 270-271
May 2, 1991