Casemate is sad to report that the Airborne Community lost one of its biggest supporters. Martha McNiece passed away on Monday, October 19, peacefully with family by her side.
Martha was married to Jake McNiece , author of THE FILTHY 13, World War II hero, and 101st Airborne Division legend, for close to 60 years.
Martha worked at Denison High School as secretary to the principal throughout 1941. She did personnel work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Denison and Dallas, TX; Sausalito, CA; and Guam from 1942 – 1949. She subsequently worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation at Aimsworth, NE and Amarillo (TX) Air Force Base from 1949 – 1951.
Martha married U.S. Army Major Charles Barnett Wonders in England September 15, 1951. Their son Alan was born July 7, 1952 at Valley Forge (PA) Army Hospital, where Charles died July 29, 1952.
Martha moved to Ponca City, OK later in 1952 and worked for Conoco in Ponca City until 1954.
Martha married Jake McNiece in Ponca City on September 4, 1953. Their daughter Rebecca was born September 27, 1954 and their son Hugh was born June 19, 1959. Martha and Jake made their home in Ponca until 2012. Martha’s mother lived with them from the beginning of their marriage until her death in 1977. Among many community service activities, Martha volunteered extensively at her children’s schools. She taught in the nursery/cradle roll Bible classes at Hartford Avenue Church of Christ; she also organized and served in volunteer beauty shop services at nursing homes with the Ladies Bible class; she worked in the clothing room; she and Jake enjoyed various roles over a 30 year period with a Tuesday night home Bible study group. She had various leadership roles in the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Postal Workers Union, locally and state wide. She walked for the Heart Fund Campaign for years. She served as a precinct election judge. She loved to sew and cook for her family and for others.
Martha delighted in the exploits of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Martha played a vital editing role in the development of Jake’s book, and was by his side, supporting, organizing, reminding, as he traveled and spoke of his WWII experiences in the later years of his life.
As Jake’s health deteriorated she continued her amazing care for him, as independently as she could for as long as she could. In 2012 Martha and Jake moved to Illinois to live with their son Hugh and his family. Jake died in 2013 and Martha was able to continue some traveling and a few school speaking engagements over her remaining years.
Martha died in Springfield, IL on October 19, 2015. She is survived by her sister Evelyn Finch, her son Alan Wonders and wife Billie Ruth, her daughter Rebecca Brewer and husband Joel, her son Hugh McNiece and wife Mary Ellen, grandchildren Lucy and husband Micah, Cara, Michelle and husband Matt, Caleb and wife Kristi, Silas, and Hannah, and great-grandchildren Luke, Titus, Elle, Mason, and Madison.
Visitation for Martha will be at Trout Funeral Home on Friday, October 23, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at Hartford Ave. Church of Christ on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Burial at Resthaven Memorial Park will follow the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 841125, Dallas, TX 75284-1125 or the Hartford Avenue Church of Christ Benevolence Room, 1905 Joe Street, Ponca City, OK 74601.
We at Casemate much regret Martha’s passing, while remaining in awe of a life that was both well-lived and extraordinarily meaningful, with a true impact upon the generations that followed.