ROCKFORD — Maybeth Shaffer Martin, 87, passed away Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at Wesley Willows Health Center in Rockford, where she had been a resident for over 11 years.
Born June 13, 1925, in Princeton, she was the daughter of O.V. and Ina (Rhodes) Shaffer. She spent her young life in Princeton, graduating from Princeton High School with honors in 1943, where her father was both the principal and superintendent of schools. During high school she worked numerous summer jobs, including ‘walking beans’, acting as a caretaker at a local cemetery and especially enjoyed her time as a lifeguard at the Alexander Park Pool. Following high school, she enrolled at Beloit College, where she was an active member of the Delta Gamma Sorority, an organization she continued her involvement with for most of her adult life. While in college, she met Malcolm Martin, and they were married after his graduation from Beloit. They were divorced in 1980.
In addition to raising a family, she was a very active volunteer in the Rockford community. She was instrumental as a volunteer in the early years of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, later serving on its Board of Directors and continued to serve RSO for many years, having been the founder of the RSO Guild. She was involved in the first "Symphony in C" fundraising event, which became a blueprint for fundraising at many other symphonies across the country. She volunteered for more than 40 years for the American Red Cross, assisting servicemen and women with travel arrangements, bringing them home when there were family emergencies. She was a long-time member of Second Congregational Church in Rockford, singing in the Sanctuary Choir and ringing handbells with the Belles of 2nd Cong for more than 30 years. The Martin Ringers, named after her deceased daughter Rebecca, has become one of the most recognized church handbell choirs in the nation.
She was a volunteer in the formative years for the Winnebago County Center for the Blind, and was a women’s rights advocate and worked relentlessly for more than 25 years as a volunteer and staff member of the Northern Illinois Women’s Center and the Rockford Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Her ongoing love and service to Beloit College continued for most of her adult life, both as a volunteer and a trustee, and in 1997 she became the recipient of the Beloit College Alumni Association Distinguished Service Citation.
Maybeth was an avid Bridge player and could be seen every week playing tennis at the Clock Tower Racquet Club until the time of her move to Wesley Willows in 2001. On a lighter note, she always claimed to be responsible for helping brothers Doug and Duane Phillips start their business, Phillips Automotive in Rockford, as she was their very first customer and continued her patronage there throughout her driving years. Her son Greg fondly remembers always warning his friends, “don’t ever argue with my mother … you don’t stand a chance”.
Maybeth was mother to four children, Greg (Ione) of Sycamore, Rebecca (deceased), Bruce (Cindy) of Marshalltown, Iowa, and Jennie (Doug) Oosterhouse of Howell, Mich. She is survived by her three living children; one brother, O.V. ‘Verne’ Shaffer of Princeton; five grandchildren, Bryan, Terrence, Sean, Melissa and Lily; and six great-grandchildren, Alex, Michael, Sierra, Jordan, Cole and Addison.
She was preceded in death by her father and mother; one daughter, Rebecca; one sister, Mary Lu; and one brother, Jerome.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. March 16 at the Second Congregational Church, 318 N. Church St., Rockford, with the Rev. Dr. J. Michael Solberg officiating.
Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. March 16 at the church.
The Farrell-Holland-Gale Funeral Home, Oregon, assisted the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be left at www.farrellhollandgale.com.