Martin Ellsworth Gingerich was born May 24, 1933 to Norman John and Catherine Pauline (Graham) Gingerich in Reedsville, Pennsylvania and spent the first nine years in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. The fifth of seven children, Martin was predeceased by brothers, Norman, Robert, Leroy "Pete", Paul, and sister Elizabeth "Betty". Sister Patricia left the family at sixteen and her whereabouts have remained unknown. Martin's mother Catherine passed away in 1942 and nine year old Martin and his younger brother Paul went to Mount Joy Orphanage. After two years there, Martin was fostered by Ray G. and Mary Gibble of Greencastle, Pennsylvania until he was fourteen. He lived with several other families until his adulthood, notably Sam and Velva Daihl of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania who encouraged his love of reading and scholarship. Martin always considered the Gibbles and Daihls his family and stayed in touch with his three foster siblings, visiting their families in Pennsylvania with his own and enjoying their visits to him.
Upon graduation from Messiah Academy, Martin joined the United States Navy where he served as a medical corpsman. After his service ended, the GI bill allowed him to attend college. He enrolled at Shippensburg State Teachers College where he met and married Mary "Betsy" Morsillo in 1958. He graduated with his bachelor's in 1958 and went on to obtain his master's from the University of Maine, and his PhD in English from Ohio University.
Martin lived his life around literature and family. He and Betsy had four children. He was a loving father, quoting long poems and passages of Dylan Thomas while walking with a colicky baby, reading fairy tales at bedtime, driving the kids to football and baseball practice, music lessons, orchestra concerts and theater rehearsals. He had a powerful love of classical music and was a season ticket holder at Miller Auditorium for many years. He often said that the best part of his life was being there for his children and seeing them grow into the people they have become. After 27 years of marriage, he and Betsy divorced. Martin married Jeanne Carroll in 1985. They would have celebrated their 32nd anniversary in December.
Martin taught English at Western Michigan University from September 1968 to December 1989. He loved teaching and felt honored to introduce a new group of students to his love of literature. Whether he was working with students in a remedial English class or teaching a seminar on Dostoevsky, he treated each student with respect and dignity. He retired in 1989 and moved north to Buckley with Jeanne where he could fish and read to his heart's content. He loved visitors and reveled in his grandchildren. He continued to cook and bake and "Grandpa" bread and chocolate pecan pie became staples.
Martin used to say that if he ever wrote a memoir he would call it "Lucky in Life" because he felt he truly was. Despite dementia and a variety of health ailments, he maintained his sense of humor to the end - laughing at jokes and teasing his children. He died peacefully in his sleep from complications due to Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Cremation has taken place and memorial service plans are as yet undetermined.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne; his first wife, Betsy Gingerich; his four children, Darcy (Dawn) Gingerich, Kevin (Andrea) Gingerich, Jonathan (Dawn) Gingerich, and Marta (Rod) Rynearson; grandchildren, Anna Reh Gingerich, Josephine Gingerich, Amelia Gingerich, Robinson Gingerich, and Madeline Gingerich; his foster siblings, Darrell Gibble, Vernice (Charles) Eshelman, and Donna (Jim) Martin; and many nieces and nephews. He was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Covell Funeral Home of Kingsley.
Published on October 29, 2017