Martha Ann Berry Norris left her earthly life on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021. Her passing was unexpected and was in the presence of her sister, Carrie Berry. Based on Holy Scriptures, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Martha breathed her last breath and was immediately in the presence of her Lord and Savior. This was a hope and a promise that Martha has had for many years.
Martha was born to Lucille Gilbert Berry and Newton G. Berry on June 13, 1941, in Bonifay, Holmes County, FL. Six years later Martha gained a sister, Carrie Berry. There were three siblings who either did not make it through birth or who lived a short period of time. Martha looked forward to the day she would see these siblings face to face.
Martha enjoyed a marriage with Charles Wayne Norris for 57 years until a short period of cancer took his life in April, 2018. Martha and Charles built their current house in 1979, after moving from Bay County. Martha transferred with the phone company and Charles began Norris Plant Farm. Martha retired in 1991. From the beginning of Norris Plant Farm, even though Martha was still working her real job, she worked alongside Charles in the business. This was a dirty job but Martha loved planting a seed, nurturing it and watching it mature into a healthy plant that might offer food or a beautiful flower. Martha and Carrie shared this love of plants. The nursery or plant section of a store was their favorite hangout while shopping. Martha often said that God had a plan for her life when she moved back to Chipley. She later realized the plan was for her to take care of her parents in their declining years. Another part of God’s plan was to be there for Carrie. Martha and Charles were a team in all this caretaking. Martha’s mom had to be placed in a residential care facility on the 3rd floor at the hospital in Chipley. Ms. Lucille was one of the first residents and lived there for many years. Martha was very attentive to her mom’s needs the entire time. She visited at least six days a week. During this time, Martha, Charles and Carrie had their own health issues that Martha would take the lead in getting care for them. Martha was part of starting the Family Council for the residents and their families. She spent much time advocating for the residents and their families.
Martha and Charles developed many long lasting friendships in their plant business. They had a good listening ear and offered hope and acceptance to their customers.
Martha was an active member of First Baptist Church in Chipley. She filled many roles during her 21 years there. Martha served on the Bereavement Committee, Triple L Committee, Prayer Room Committee and taught a Sunday School Class for Older Ladies. Martha had an interest in their well being and listened to their sorrows. She was there for them when they lost a spouse or when their health declined to the point of their having to move to a nursing home. Martha maintained contact with her class even when they were no longer able to attend church. Martha ministered to many families as she volunteered with the Pregnancy Center for several years.
Martha had a love for family. She made an intentional effort to stay connected with cousins and other relatives. She made many calls and sent many notes of encouragement. Her notes of encouragement were received by many in the local community as well.
Martha and Charles never had children of their own but they loved on many through the years. Many years ago, they fell in love with a family of four boys and their parents. Their relationship has been shared and reciprocated many times through the years. They would work together on the plant farm or work on a home project or spend time together at Howard Creek. They spent many holidays and celebrations together. Their events became bigger as the boys became men, married and had children. The relationship shared with this family added much joy to Charles, Martha and Carrie’s life.
Martha was quite a historian and her recall of memories and events will be missed. She had a fortunate childhood as she lived near both maternal and paternal grandparents in the Orange Hill Community.
Martha is survived by a special sister, Carrie Berry; her adopted family: Quincy and Emily Pettis of Chipley, FL; their four children and spouses: Brian and Valerie Pettis and children, Allison Rudd (Scotty), Whit and Wes; Eric and Rhonda Pettis and daughters Eyrica and Kailey; Kevin and Tammy Pettis and daughter Heidi; Olen and Julie Pettis and children, Jacob, Jadyn and Judson. A brother in law, Billy Norris of Louisiana survives Martha. There are numerous first and second cousins who will miss Martha.
Funeral Services will be Friday, April 9 at 11:00 A.M. at First Baptist Church in Chipley. Visitation will start at 10:00 A.M CST. Reverend Mike Orr will be officiating. Interment will follow at the New Orange Baptist Cemetery. Donations may be sent to First Baptist Church Building Fund, Chipley, or the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at 4350 Westmont Drive, Charlotte, NC or to the Gideon’s, Chipley Camp.
Brown Funeral Home & Blue Lake Crematory or Chipley, FL is in charge of arrangements. Family and friends may sign the online register at www.brownfh.net.