Martha Richie Davis (born Martha Ellen Richie) died peacefully in her sleep on April 12, 2022, surrounded by family in St. Augustine, Fla., at age 78. She is preceded in death by her parents, John Lee and Pauline Carter Richie; and her husband, Bruce Elwell Davis.
She is survived by her brother, John Carter Richie, his wife, Martha, their three children and her nine grandnieces and grandnephews; son Reid and grandchildren Ellen, Alice, Sally and Susannah; son Carter, his wife, Stacey, and grandchildren Connor, Everett, Lola and Brooks; son Stephen, his wife, Rachel, and grandchildren Lillian, Jackson and Joshua; and former daughter-in-law Kim Davis.
While Marty was a devoted pastor’s wife and mother who retired from teaching high school shortly before her first son was born, she worked all her life to love and minister to people, especially women of all ages, teaching scores of Bible studies and small groups throughout the years. She had a special heart for those facing the loss of a spouse after enduring that experience herself in 1992, and helped conceive and launch the Widows’ Ministry at Perimeter Church in spring 2000. She was utterly devoted to all of her grandchildren, regularly traveling to see those in Florida or Washington, DC, as well as her four granddaughters close by in East Atlanta. More than anything, Marty was a voracious reader, writer, and storyteller who loved the power of language to move and change people. Vocationally, she spent 20 years helping Mission to the World (MTW) and its missionaries communicate about their work to build God’s church around the globe. In her free time, she traveled to storytellers’ conventions and wrote down numerous old family stories gleaned through her extensive family genealogical research. She spent the last 20 years of her life scouring public records, archived newspaper clippings, and graveyards for details about her family’s past. As her passion for genealogy grew, she often planned trips around this passion, meeting with family members on the road or hunting down long-forgotten scraps of family history.
A self-described “army brat,” born in 1944 before the end of WWII in Booneville, Mississippi, Martha was known to most as “Martha Ellen,” though her father lovingly called her “Missy.” Growing up, she traveled the world while living with her family on various U.S. Army bases. Although a Mississippi girl through and through, she attended middle school in Germany and high school in Taiwan before returning to her home state to attend Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, where she pursued a degree in education. While attending Belhaven, Martha met fellow student and future husband, Bruce, who would eventually become an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Martha and Bruce were married in 1966, and during Bruce’s time in seminary, Martha taught high-school history in Forest Park, Georgia, in the southern suburbs of Atlanta. The two eventually settled in Augusta, Georgia, when Bruce accepted a position as assistant pastor at First Presbyterian Church. The couple’s first son, Reid, was born in 1971, and the family of three moved a few interstate exits west to Thomson, Georgia, in 1973 when Bruce accepted a job as head pastor for a small, historic church. In 1976, their second son, Carter, was born, and their third son, Stephen, was born in 1978. By this time, Martha Ellen had come to be known as “Marty” to all but those who had known her since childhood. And yes, her father still called her “Missy.”
In 1986, the family moved to Chapin, South Carolina, a small town on the outskirts of Columbia, when Bruce accepted a role as head pastor for a young church in a lakeside community. In 1990, Bruce became the Church Relations Director for Mission to the World (MTW), an international organization that seeks to train, support and develop global Christian missionaries — a cause long championed by both Bruce and Marty. This job required another move, and the family settled in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, in the growing city of Duluth. Bruce died from complications related to a brain tumor in 1992, and Marty remained in the same house until moving into full-time care in Florida in late 2020.
From approximately the time Bruce died until she retired in 2012, Marty worked for MTW, first helming the front desk, answering the phones, and helping with administrative duties, before eventually becoming MTW’s communications director.
In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to either the Widows’ Ministry at Perimeter Church or Mission to the World (MTW).
Give to the Perimeter Church Widows’ Ministry by mailing a check with “Marty Davis Memorial Fund” in the memo line to Perimeter Church Attn: Accounting, 9500 Medlock Bridge Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30022. Or give online at perimeter.org/give/give-online/. Select the box for “Other,” choose “Perimeter Church” as designation, and then “Widows Ministry” under “Choose Ministry.”
Give to MTW at MTW.org/projects toward one of these two projects. The Ambassadors Fund (project #99970) funds strategic, capital ministry initiatives throughout the world. Regional HUBs (#99991) are the modern version of the job Marty’s late husband, Bruce, held until 1992 to ignite a passion for global missions within the hearts of pastors and members in PCA churches.
A memorial service will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, May 7, in the Day Chapel of Perimeter Church at 9500 Medlock Bridge Rd., Johns Creek, GA 30097. A reception for visitors will immediately follow from 12:30 to 2:30. A live video of the service will be available for viewing during the service and will be posted afterward for those unable to attend in person.