Joan Thompson Martin died Aug. 11

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Joan Thompson Martin departed this life after a long illness on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. 

Joan was born in Clifton Forge on Aug. 25, 1932, and moved to Lexington as a small child. She was the daughter of the late John Hedges Reed Thompson and Thelma Major Thompson of Lexington. She was the granddaughter of William Watson Major and Lillian Donald Major of Lexington, and James Furlong Thompson and Minna Ray Thompson of Martinsburg, W.Va.

She was preceded in death by her sister, Jane Thompson Thompson of Oakland, Calif., and her grandson Preston Stevens Martin of Atlanta, Ga.

She is survived by her loving and devoted husband of 65 years, Robert Malcolm Martin of Lynchburg; her son, Robert Major Martin Sr. of Atlanta, Ga.; her daughter, Dawn Martin Blankinship, and Dawn's husband Brian of Lynchburg; and grandchildren, Robert Major Martin Jr. of Atlanta, Robert Martin Blankinship of Lynchburg, Thompson Kathleen Blankinship of Boulder, Colo., and Aubry Virginia Martin of Eugene, Ore. She is also survived by her sister, Jaqueline Thompson Kovalic, and brother-in-law Peter P. Kovalic of Winchester, Ky.; brother-in-law Phil E. Thompson of Oakland, Calif.; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and great nephews.

The family would like to recognize and thank Diane Beverly for the love she gave to Joan and for her tireless efforts and endless hours of care and devotion, and a special thank you to Joan’s loving caregiver, Bonnie Williams.

Joan is a graduate of Natural Bridge High School where she was the captain of her basketball team, a member of the Student Government Association and school choir, state president of the National Homemakers of America Association and valedictorian of her graduating class.  Mrs. Martin was a graduate of Madison College where she graduated in three years with honors. At Madison, she was a recipient of the Dupont Scholarship, a member of ASA Sorority, a soloist in the touring Glee Club, and was the first runner-up on the May Court.

Mrs. Martin began her illustrious teaching career in the Roanoke City Schools where she taught for two years. She married Bob and moved to Lynchburg where she taught a generation of Lynchburg children for 33 years as a sixth and seventh grade teacher at Bedford Hills Elementary School, a sixth grade teacher at Dunbar Middle School and a gifted math and English teacher at Linkhorne Middle School. Mrs. Martin implemented and oversaw the Staff Development Specialist Program in which she trained teachers "how to teach."

She and her husband retired in 1991 and enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and abroad, going on many exciting adventures with their children, grandchildren and sister Jane and brother-in-law Phil.

Mrs. Martin was active in her community and served on many boards. She had past service on the board of directors of the Miller Home for Girls, on The Lynchburg Community Market board, was president of the Lynchburg Education Association and an active member of the Virginia Education Association. She was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Red Robin Garden Club, sang in the choir for many years at Westminster Presbyterian Church and served as a docent at Poplar Forest.

Mrs. Martin was an avid reader, never missed an episode of “Jeopardy” (or an answer), loved a good crossword puzzle, was an amazing gourmet cook and no matter the sport ... she was a die-hard fan of many sports, rooting on her husband, children, grandchildren and the Atlanta Braves.

A memorial service and reception for Mrs. Martin will be held on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg. A private burial ceremony for family and Rockbridge County friends will be held the following day at 2 p.m. at Green Hill Cemetery in Buena Vista.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit




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