Martha Lee Sumner
November 9, 1918 – May 14, 2018
On May 14, 2018, Martha Lee (Missie) Sumner was released from the pain and constraints of earth in her 100th year. Martha embraced her family and life to the fullest; her grit plus tenacity, now becomes a challenge to those who follow. Martha was a long time member of Beechland Baptist Church and saw the passage of 3 pastors: R.F. Doll, Orrin Stites, and Grady Randolph. She witnessed the 1950 construction of the “new” sanctuary but remained saddened by the loss of the iconic stained glass windows from the “old church”.
Martha was a terrific mother to four sons and along with her late husband Winfred “Biff” Sumner formed a dynamic business “team”; undeterred by depression; the 1937 flood; WWII; financial struggles; and the death of their youngest son. Together in the late 1940s, through foresight, sheer determination, savings, and Biff’s brother Paul’s muster pay, they started a remarkable business: Sumner’s Feed and Hardware. Martha and Biff’s unwavering dedication produced one of the largest family owned hardware stores. It was originally located at the busy Greenwood Road and Dixie Hwy intersection but later moved a mile south. Even so, for over 30 years, it remained a compass point for everything in PRP. All four sons worked at the store, with the oldest son (“Little Biff”) specializing in sporting goods, weapons, and ammunition.
As an escape from business, Martha and Biff built a retreat at Rough River. Their vacancy sign at the “fish camp” saw a lot of action: it was always open for family and friends. Dad’s health slowly declined, resulting in a tough decision, the sale of their life’s work: Sumner’s Hardware. After the sale, the transition for Martha and Biff was hard but the lake plus friendly sparring for head fisherman, made the changes acceptable. Dad’s health would not improve and the “team” faded after Dad’s death. Martha continued what they both loved and even extended the fishing territory to include two lakes near central Florida. Mom had a plan to make fishing her year ‘round thing. Every day on the water was special but when she caught a 10 ½ pound largemouth bass at Lake Lochloosa in 1985 that was a banner day. It remains a family record but we like to imagine it was a truly “team” effort.
Martha was born on November 9, 1918, the second daughter of parents Benjamin Henry Missie and Jessie Anna Schmitz. Martha’s husband of 47 years, Winfred Joseph (“Biff”) Sumner died in 1982 and her youngest son Benjamin died in 1970 at age 23. Martha was preceded in death by her only sister, Elba (Missie) Johnson Hagan and her only brother Richard (“Dick”) Lewis Missie who died in 1928 at age 7.
Martha’s living children are Winfred L. Sumner known as “Juney” or “Biff” (Nancy Lou Payton, deceased), Patrick Sumner, both in Louisville, and Richard L. Sumner (Clara Russell) who resides in central Florida. Martha has five grandchildren: Steven (Terri Baker), Kenneth (Tracy Lea), and Tracy Lynn Sumner, all living near / in Louisville. Two other grandchildren reside in Florida: Cherelle (Paul) Lapinski and Ed Connell, Jr (Sherri). There are 14 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren. Grannie leaves a challenge for every youngster: get the lead out or she’s betting a Coke, you’ll wish you had.
Martha was a resident of Park Terrace for over a year. The family wishes to extend their appreciation to all the staff at Park Terrace and their willingness to accommodate Martha’s unique personality.
In an effort to respect Martha’s belief, flowers are for the living, the family has requested that the funeral home refuse acceptance of any floral arrangements or decorative remembrances. Cards of sympathy are very much appreciated and we encourage floral tributes be sent to your family’s special person.
Her funeral service will be held at 6:00 pm Saturday, June 2 at Heady-Hardy Funeral Home, 7710 Dixie Hwy, with private burial at Louisville Memorial Gardens West. Visitation will be from 1-8 pm Friday and from 10:00 am until time of the service Saturday at the funeral home.
- Visitation Friday, June 1, 2018
- Visitation Saturday, June 2, 2018
- Funeral Service Saturday, June 2, 2018
Martha Lee Sumner
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May 29, 2018
Our love and prayers are with Richard and all the family of Mrs. Sumner. She was a wonderful lady! With love in Christ, Joy and Richard Everett