Martin Barkley

Amos Martin Barkley was born on March 11, 1939, in Huntersville, the son of Clifford Lee Barkley and Ruth Oleta Wooddell.

Martin married Joan Monk Barkley on August 8, 1964 at his birthplace in Huntersville.

One of his favorite stories was about how he fell in love with this young woman in curlers at a basketball game in Cass. Martin exemplified Godly love to his wife, daughter, Shannon, and son, Matthew, as well as to his grandchildren, Noah, Kira, Sienna, Mileya and Kyle.

Martin grew up (mainly) in Cass, with his sisters Louise Osiecki (Tony) and Margie Sue Sparks (John), and brother Artie (Diana). He went to elementary school at Cass and high school at Green Bank, graduating from Green Bank High School in May 1957.

Cass was a lumber town at that time so after graduation Martin worked various jobs at the Mower Lumber Company resulting in many interesting stories. He left Mower to serve his country in the Navy 1958-1962.

Martin was proud to serve and attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Ilinois, and machinist school in San Diego, California. He was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt aircraft carrier. He served in Quantico Bay, Cuba, and on tours in the Brooklyn, New York shipyard. He also chronicled his ports-of-call in numerous photographs and slides while on lengthy military cruises in the Mediterranean Sea. Ports he explored included Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Tripoli in Libya. Martin sent dolls from many of these countries back home to little sister Margie. In the spring of 1962, Martin received an honorable discharge from the Navy as a Machinist Repairman 2nd Class. He then served in the Navy Reserves 1962-1964.

In 1962, Martin returned home to West Virginia and was hired as a machinist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. He worked at the Observatory for 39 years, more than 20 years as the Machine Shop Supervisor. Martin treasured special friendships with the Machine Shop crew and, with this crew, helped construct the Green Bank Telescope. He also treasured life-long friendships with Hollis Ryder, John Sparks, Buster Greathouse and Doug Monk, sharing life’s journey of hunting and fishing, various projects, church activities, illnesses, holidays, special events, etc.

Martin was also a farmer, which Joan says was an expensive “hobby.” Perhaps that is the reason Martin often referred to himself as a “poor old dirt farmer.” This title recently earned him a gift card from a sympathetic waitress at a Bob Evans restaurant who took him seriously. He shared his love of farming with son, Matthew, and grandson, Noah, while training, supervising and correcting their farming methods. Martin’s persistence in farming while battling cancer and cancer treatments for more than 10 years earned numerous responses of disbelief and caution from his medical team in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Martin had a heart for Christ and faithfully served God as the Superintendent and Sunday School teacher at Kerr Memorial Church in Boyer for 54 years. He spent many, many hours studying his Bible and preparing for church services and Sunday School classes. Martin said he also spent many quiet hours on the Mediterranean Sea studying his Bible and pondering life (past, present and future). He absorbed the solitude and beauty of the Mediterranean.

Martin lived a life of example, inspired daughter Shannon’s faith journey and spiritual growth, and shared his Godly knowledge and wisdom with friends, family, church family and community members. Martin had a unique relationship with everyone he knew – parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, nieces, nephews, church family, community members, medical staff, etc. – and each of them held a special place in his praying heart.

Surviving cancer for more than 10 years is a miracle in which God did His part and Martin did his part.

Martin’s part in this joint venture was driven by his love of God and family. In fact, Martin recently commented, “Well, that’s why I’m here (to love and take care of my family).” Although Martin and Joan had a few years of an “empty nest,” the last 11 years of his life were very full as his children and grandchildren returned home. He and Joan provided love, support, stability and encouragement to all of them during turbulent times in their lives.

Martin enjoyed cutting loads of wood for the wood stove (aka “the dummy”), making sausage gravy every Saturday morning (always setting aside a small bowl of sausage for granddaughter Mileya), attending countless livestock shows, athletic events, school activities and dance recitals for his grandchildren, talking to sister Margie at least once a day on the phone, asking grandson Noah about shearing and grooming his show sheep and discussing the mechanical works of the steam trains, teaching granddaughter Kira to use a chainsaw to cut firewood and to drive a tractor, fishing for native trout and pier-fishing with granddaughter Sienna on the OBX, holding granddaughter Mileya in his strong arms and next to his warm heart to comfort and soothe her sometimes restless spirit (often watching the squirrels together), talking with Kyle about mechanical and work projects, driving his John Deere tractor, riding his 4-wheeler to check on the livestock, working in his garden and potato patch with his grandchildren, eating ice cream, supervising logging and construction projects on the farm, sitting with Joan in the living room after a busy day, and taste-testing his granddaughters’ baked goods saying, “You can’t eat just one; it takes two to make sure it tastes right.” Around the house, he was known as Mr. Fix It. If something broke or just stopped working, his grandchildren said, “I’ll take it to Papaw. He’ll fix it.” He particularly enjoyed the outdoors where he felt close to God surrounded by his creation.

In Martin’s valiant battle against cancer, he and Joan made many trips to Charlottesville, Virginia, for doctor appointments and treatments. He was blessed to have an excellent medical team and one of his most skilled and compassionate doctors. Dr. Grosh, stated on New Year’s Eve “…he is a complicated man” because, to the very end, the doctors could not quite figure out Martin’s condition—how he survived for so long but then why his health ultimately declined so quickly. So quickly, in fact, that his reddish, course hair turned white and soft “overnight” in November 2020. Except for brief updates, Martin did not talk much about the cancer and never, ever complained. Only he and God know the nature of his struggle with this horrible disease. Martin and Joan had many meaningful conversations during the trips to Charlottesville over the years; conversations which Joan treasures in her heart. To make the long trips go faster, Joan learned the names of the nine mountains between home and Charlottesville: Allegheny, Read Oak Knob, Lantz, Monterey, Jack, Bullpasture, Shaw’s Ridge, Shenandoah and Afton. Martin liked to stop at the top of Shenandoah to pray. On his last trip home from Charlottesville on Christmas Eve 2020 after spending four days in the hospital, Martin, Joan, and niece Hillary Sparks stopped atop Shenandoah where Martin prayed the following prayer as he looked over the mountains, down in the valleys and at the cut-back with cars climbing the mountain:

“Dear Lord,
As we look at these beautiful mountains and valleys, we feel your presence and ask that your path be clear in our lives.
Thank you for all your glory. Amen”

In Martin’s last days, Hillary was his registered nurse guardian angel, “on duty” 24/7 to answer his medical questions and provide compassionate medical care to her beloved uncle. He wanted to understand what was happening in his cancer-filled body, and they developed a special bond of trust and partnership in the final stage of his life journey.

Amos Martin Barkley, at the age of 81, went to his heavenly home on Sunday, January 3, 2021, where he is now healed of cancer and embraced warmly in his Heavenly Father’s arms. God most certainly welcomed Martin expressing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

In his passing from this life to his next, Martin was surrounded by his family and friends who are at peace knowing they will be with him again in eternity. The last verses of the song Temporary Home (co-written by Carrie Underwood, Luke Laird and Zac Maloy) describe Martin’s final moments on this Earth, as well as his mindset regarding the eternal life he was prepared to embrace:

“Old man, hospital bed
The room is filled with people he loves
And he whispers don’t cry for me
I’ll see you all someday
He looks up and says, I can see God’s face
This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong
Windows and rooms that I’m passing through
This was just a stop on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know, this was my temporary home”

Graveside service with military honors by the Pocahontas County Veteran Honor Corp was held January 6, 2020, at Boyer Cemetery with Pastor David Rittenhouse and Pastor Julian Rittenhouse officiating.

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