MARTIN, Alva: Let us celebrate the life of Alva Pershing Martin, age 100, of Vandalia, Ohio who passed away Saturday October 12, 2019 at Wesley Ridge Assisted Living in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Alva was born in Oak Hill, West Virginia on April 21, 1919. He is preceded in death by his wife Ruth Shumate Martin and parents, William Robert and Mary Elswick Martin, his sister Freda Martin Phipps, and two brothers Virgil Martin and Paul Martin. Alva is survived by his son James Martin and his wife Jean (Bruce) Martin, his daughter Ann (Martin) Colston and her husband John T. Colston; grandchildren Jeffery Martin, Diane Taylor, Jacob Martin, Brian Colston and John Alva Colston plus fourteen great grandchildren.
Alva was raised in the coal mining community of Minden, WV. His father was a mechanic on mining equipment and local truck driver until his accidental death when Alva was 17. As a boy Alva saw a plane flying overhead and decided he'd rather learn about aviation than go into the mines. After graduating high school, he met the love of his life, Ruth Shumate, in an Oak Hill’s Woolworth store. In the fall Ruth left for college and Alva left for aircraft mechanic training in Los Angeles. He sent word back about jobs in California, which resulted in 30 members of his extended family permanently leaving West Virginia to follow him to California. At Douglas Aircraft he led wing assembly on the C-54 including FDR's presidential plane. Alva and Ruth married in 1942 and had their son, James, in 1944. Alva received a deferment for leading a crew that built airplanes at the beginning of the war. That deferment lasted 2 years. In 1944 he was drafted by the US Army and trained in tanks, including being involved in the planned invasion of Japan. The dropping of the atomic bomb ended the war but not his time in service as he and his unit were sent as one of the first occupying troops in Korea where he served as an MP.
After discharge from the service, their daughter, Elizabeth Ann, was born in 1947. With Alva’s training completed, the family returned east, settling in Marion, Ohio where Alva worked as a pilot and airplane mechanic, working in his own shop and for Galion Iron Works. In 1961 the family moved to Vandalia where Alva became the mechanic and co-pilot for the Martin 404 airplane owned by Huber Homes, Inc.
In retirement he and Ruth wintered in Florida in their motor home and enjoyed cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mediterranean and Alaska. Alva was a member of Jaycees in Marion, Ohio and later a member of the Lions Club and Masonic Lodge in Vandalia. He and Ruth were active in Vandalia Senior Citizens, Vandalia Historical Society and in Vandalia United Methodist church. Alva also enjoyed collecting unique coins and paper money.
He loved a “mess” built around cornbread and beans, dancing to big band music, Skyline Chili, Chrysler cars, anything to do with airplanes, Bengals Football, and Cincinnati Reds Baseball.
As he approached his 100th birthday in April, he proclaimed that he had done everything he wanted and had nothing left on his bucket list. Alva and Ruth were married for 73 1/2 years, only being parted during Alva’s service deployment during the war until Ruth passed in 2016. As he has dreamed about during the last three years, he reached out his hand on Saturday October 12th and joined his beloved wife Ruth.
Funeral services will be held at the Vandalia United Methodist Church, 200 S. Dixie Drive, Vandalia on Monday October 21, 2019 at 11:00am with Rev. Mike Malcosky officiating. The family will receive guests during the celebration of Alva’s life at the Morton Whetstone Funeral home, located at 139 S. Dixie Drive, Vandalia, Ohio from 2:00-4:00pm on Sunday October 20th. Visitation will also be held on Monday, October 21st from 10:00 am until time of service. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Vandalia-Butler Food Pantry or to the Vandalia-Butler Historical Society in Alva’s memory.
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