Martha Rae Starnes

January 1, 1931July 14, 2018
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MARTHA RAE ROWE STARNES Martha Rae Rowe Starnes passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at Carolina Rehab of Burke. Martha was born January 1, 1931 in Catawba County to the late Edgar L. and Dillie Pearl Rowe. She was married to Wynn E. Starnes for 31 years until his passing in 1979. Martha was a member of West Hickory Baptist Church, having served in the past as a children’s Sunday school teacher. Martha was the seventh of nine children. She was preceded in death by her five brothers; Everette, Maryland, Charlie, Winfred and Bobby Rowe and two sisters; Mildred Weisner and Margie Spencer. Martha was retired from Belk Department Store after 33 years of service. She never met a stranger, enjoying working with her coworkers and customers. Her favorite activities were family trips to the beach, bus tours with cousins and friends, music, dancing and working out with the Silver Sneakers at Catawba Valley Medical Center Fitness Plus. Left to cherish Martha’s memory and carry on her legacy are a daughter, Cindy Starnes Lutz and husband Mike of Lenoir and a son Tim W. Starnes and wife Janice of Hickory, a brother Joe Billy Rowe of Vale, three grandchildren; T. Joshua Starnes and fiancée Charlene Poblete of Jacksonville, Florida, Wesley T. White and wife Christy of Belmont, NC, Deanetta Bullins and special friend Mike Grandstaff Jr. of Hickory, first cousin Bleeka Hollar of Hickory, four great grandchildren and one great, great grand and a number of special nieces, nephews and friends. A Celebration of Life service will be conducted on Friday, July 20, 2018 at 12pm at Catawba Funeral Home chapel with the Rev. Ben Rowe officiating. Burial will follow in Catawba Memorial Park. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 11am to 12pm. Pall bearers will be nephews. In lieu of flowers, please give to the charity of your choice. Condolences may be left at The Starnes family is under the care of Catawba Memorial Park, Funerals & Cremations.


  • Cindy Starnes Lutz, Daughter
  • Mike Lutz, Son-in-law
  • Tim W. Starnes, Son
  • Janice Starnes, Daughter-in-law
  • Joe Billy Rowe, Brother
  • T. Joshua Starnes, Grandchild
  • Charlene Poblete, Grandchild
  • Wesley T. White, Grandchild
  • Christy White, Grandchild
  • Deanetta Bullins, Grandchild
  • Mike Grandstaff Jr., Friend
  • Bleeka Hollar, First Cousin
  • Four great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, and a number of special nieces, nephews, and friends.

  • Bobby Neil Rowe
  • David Rowe
  • Eric Starnes
  • Buzzy Gribble
  • John W. Gribble Sr.


  • Visitation Friday, July 20, 2018
  • Celebration of Life Service Friday, July 20, 2018

Martha Rae Starnes

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Annette Forbes

July 17, 2018

Our condolences and prayers on behalf of the HR team with Tyson Foods Inc formerly known as AdvancePierre Foods.



Martha Rae Starnes was a natural leader whose winning presence allowed her to take control of various situations with ease. Equipped with a clear and calculating focus, she possessed a tough-minded, “take charge” attitude. She had the ability to make even routine situations seem exciting, and she was at ease with the role of playing problem solver. Martha always sought out the scene of where the action was. Sociable, analytical and pleasant, Martha was an individual who enjoyed life’s challenges.

      Martha was born on January 1, 1931 at Richard Baker Hospital in Hickory, North Carolina. Her parents were Edgar and Dillie Rowe. Martha was raised in West Hickory on a 93 acre farm in an area known as "Rowe Town". Always able to express herself well, Martha possessed strong interpersonal skills. She was optimistic in her outlook on life and was able at all times to be open and direct in her communication. Armed with a great wit, Martha was raised to be accepting of others and to implement a strong personal work ethic.

      Blessed with a balanced attitude, Martha was able to relate well with others. Her occasional role as family mediator gave her the opportunity to ease tense situations when they occurred. Martha was raised with eight siblings. She had four older brothers, Everette, Maryland, Charlie and Winfred, two younger brothers, Bobby and Joe Billy, and two older sisters, Mildred and Margie. Martha had a strong desire to be treated fairly and would readily offer others the same fairness in return.

      As a young child, Martha showed her creative ability in many ways. She was outgoing and animated. Martha enjoyed new activities and pursued a variety of interests. She took part in baseball, jump rope, hop-scotch, swinging on vines from tree to tree over creeks, see-saw and jump plank, but her favorite was roller skating. In her spare time she liked going to the movies and playing with her two younger brothers and her cousins.

      Known to others as a focused, logical, open-minded and somewhat driven individual, Martha was able to utilize these qualities to succeed in high school. Her curious nature was spurred by her ability to maximize her personal learning style through employing a hands-on approach. She was good with facts and had an excellent memory. She went to Hickory High School, although she quit school in the tenth grade. She enjoyed some courses more than others, having favorite classes and teachers. Her favorite class in high school was home economics, spelling and math. The teachers she enjoyed learning from the most was Miss Mary Patterson her home economics teacher and Miss Ann Minter her math teacher and Mrs. Morehead her english teacher.

      Friends and acquaintances found Martha an easy woman to get to know, and those close to her would often praise her open, practical style of communication and relaxed approach to life in general. Martha was uncomplicated and straightforward in her relationships, which allowed her to accept people for what they were. While growing up, some of her best friends were Grace Seitz, Madge Wright, Mary Cook, Bleeka Hollar and Virgie Rowe. Later in life, she became friends with Mary C. Starnes, Louise Starnes, Lucille Hewitt, Geneva Abernathy and Bernice and Jerri.

      On March 27, 1949 Martha exchanged wedding vows with Wynn Elvin Starnes at the Justice of the Peace of Gaffney, South Carolina. Martha was attentive to Wynn's feelings, and she charmed Wynn and others with her gift for being able to give freely and generously. A good listener with an engaging personality, Martha was able to bring pleasure and unexpected humor to the relationship.

      Very much like a kid herself, Martha identified with the inquisitive and creative side of her children’s personalities. She was able to direct her energy and spontaneity towards helping her children acquire added common sense skills. Martha was blessed with two children, one daughter, Cynthia (Cindy) and son-in-law Mike, one son, Timothy (Tim) and daughter-in-law Janice. They were also blessed with three grandchildren, Joshua, Wesley and Deanetta and four great grandchildren, Houstyn, Cory, Ciara and Elijah and one great- great granddaughter, Maggie Grace.

      Martha was a flexible worker who was able to draw the best from others around her. A persuasive individual who was quick to make necessary decisions, Martha’s strengths included being able to think on her feet. She could be a leader who sought impact for her decisions. Gifted with an incredible ability to read body language, Martha was able to positively manipulate situations and motivate others in order to get a task completed. She was a good negotiator who enjoyed new challenges. Martha could multi-task, and she was endowed with an entrepreneurial spirit, allowing her to think beyond standard norms when it came to resolving issues in her work environment. Her primary occupation was retail sales associate, then later promoted to manager. She was employed for 33 years at Belks Department Store at Catawba Mall and Valleys Hills Mall.

      Martha enjoyed her leisure time by taking part in various hobbies. She had something of an artistic flair in many of the things that she did. She put this creativity toward all of her pastimes. Her favorite pursuits were coin collecting, making clothes on her sewing machine, cooking, finding recipes, baking, reading magines, word find puzzles, plays, musicals, listening to music, watching soap operas and making her signature Brown Stone Birthday cakes for family. She was content to enjoy her hobbies alone but was also willing to share her interests with others.

      Because she liked to take risks, Martha was a perfect match for athletics and exercise. She was enthusiastic and confident about these activities. Recreational sports included walking and she enjoyed dancing. Martha was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed watching her favorite events whenever she got the opportunity. Tops on her list were UNC Basketball and the ACC Tournament.

      Martha was a gifted problem solver who worked hard to help accomplish group goals. This skill made her a wonderful asset to the various groups and organizations to which she belonged. Always matter-of-fact about what needed to be done, Martha worked steadily to meet any organization’s goals. Throughout her later years, Martha was an active member of the Green Park Elementary PTA, Class Mother, chaperone for school outings and helped out with the Brownie Scouts as needed.

      Martha was a generous woman who prized that same quality in others. So it’s little wonder that she was so active and giving in her community. Politically, Martha was a Democrat.

      Martha held close traditional values and as a result, faith was important to her. She was a member of West Hickory Baptist Church for 43 years. During that time, she was a children's Sunday School teacher and was involved with the WMU.

      Martha’s natural leadership qualities placed her in consideration for public recognition, earning her accolades for her many and varied efforts throughout her life. Some of her most prestigious awards included Pace Setter Award from Belks for making or exceeding all goals and also a 25 year service award.

      Travel and vacations were experiences that Martha truly enjoyed. She preferred to seek out excitement wherever she went and she was partial to vacations that were casual and laid back with an atmosphere of “live and let live.” She was willing to leave her plans open and flexible, just in case something more interesting came along. Favorite vacations included Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach, Carolina Beach, family vacations to Wilmington and Jacksonville, Florida, bus tours to Orlando, Florida with Lucille Hewitt and trips to Daytona Beach, Florida with her first cousins Bleeka, Louise and Opal, trips to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Knoxville, the Grand Ole Opry, trips to Washington, D.C. with Cindy and Mike, as well as bus tours to Virginia with Bleeka.

      Martha was a lover of animals and cherished her pets. She grew up on a farm, so they had many animals such as , 2 mules for plowing the fields, a milk cow names Susie, chickens, hogs, hunting dogs. None were pets, but she liked them all. Her family was rounded out by her red Beta Fish, Charlie and he lived for 5 years.

      When Martha’s retirement finally came in 2002, she was well prepared. She used logical analysis of her retirement options in order to ensure her retirement would be fulfilling. Still, she was able to easily adapt to possible changes and enjoyed just having fun and being relaxed. Her new life involved relocating to Lenoir after failing health in October 2015 to July 2018. She lived with her daughter and son-in-law until her passing. In retirement, she found new pleasure in dancing at the American Legion in Newton on Friday nights and dancing at the Zodiac Club on Saturday nights. She and Janice also enjoyed working out at Silver Sneakers Fitness Center at CVMC.

      Martha passed away on July 14, 2018 at Carolina Rehab of Burke in Icard, North Carolina from an unexpected heart attack. She is survived by her children, grandchildren, one brother, Joe BIlly, and one first cousin, Bleeka Rowe Hollar. Services were held at Catawba Memorial Park, Funerals & Cremations in Hickory, North Carolina. Martha was laid to rest in Catawba Memorial Park in Hickory, North Carolina.

      Martha was the kind of person who could win others over easily. A concrete communicator, she relied on her senses to increase her involvement and awareness of others. She was always able to provide amusing repartee to her friends and acquaintances, offering a seemingly endless supply of quips, anecdotes, jokes and stories. If Martha had a theme song written about her, it might well have been “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” She enjoyed her life and the experience of living it. This is how everyone will remember Martha Rae Starnes.