Memphis Funeral Home


Martha Jane Pullen Tibbs

February 12, 1932October 15, 2021

Martha Jane Pullen Tibbs, age 89, passed away October 15, 2021. She was born February 12, 1932 in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of John Thomas Pullen, Jr. and Martha Frances Gragg Pullen. She was a sixth-generation Shelby Countian and a descendant of one of the original surveyors of Memphis, John Ralston. Her ancestor, Colonel William Clement McDaniel, served in the Revolutionary War and was at Yorktown for the British surrender. Her family’s rich heritage in Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas sparked a lifelong love of history and genealogy. She served on the Shelby County Historical Commission for many years and led work to mark and preserve numerous historical sites linked to the early days of Memphis. These efforts suited her sharp mind and talent for research. She also served as a Shelby County election judge, an officer in the Nineteenth Century Club, and was a benefactor of the Eastland Presbyterian Church near her childhood home. She expressed her artistic side through photography, painting, dancing, sewing, and cake decorating. She excelled at mathematics, which she taught in the 1950s at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Presbyterian Day School, and Lausanne Collegiate School. She had a sweet, kind, sunny, and endearing personality and was always eager to help anyone she thought was in need. As busy as she was, she always put family first. She was a devoted mother to her children, an adoring grandmother, and took loving care of her husband and her parents in the final years of their lives. Martha Jane cherished the friends she made and history she learned through her genealogical work and became a member—and often an officer or leader of—countless historical and genealogical groups. These groups included: Zachariah Davies Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR); National Society Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America; National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century; National Society Southern Dames of America; Early Settlers of Shelby County; National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons; Regents Council, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR); Tennessee Genealogical Society; The Colonial Dames of America; Memphis Scottish Society, Inc.; Sovereign Colonial Society Americans of Royal Descent; Tennessee State Dames of Court of Honor; West Tennessee Historical Society; The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America; Colonial Order of the Crown; Society of Descendants of Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter; Family of Bruce International, Inc.; Plantagenet Society; American Clan Donald Society; The American Clan Gregor Society; Tennessee Society of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America; National Society of Pilgrims; Chickasaw District Daughters of the American Revolution School; National Society Sons and Daughters of Antebellum Planters 1607-1861; Sons and Daughters of the Colonial and Antebellum Bench and Bar 1565-1861; National Society United States Daughters of 1812; Order of the Merovingian Dynasty; The National Guild of St. Margaret of Scotland; and Order of the Crown of Charlemagne. She served as President of the Cleveland (MS) Garden Club, Secretary-Treasurer of Cleveland Medical Auxiliary, and a member of the Cleveland Junior Auxiliary and Cleveland Women's Club. She was a member of the Alpha Omega Pi Sorority and was a former member of the University Club of Memphis, the Racquet Club, and the Nineteenth Century Club. She was regularly listed in Who’s Who. Martha Jane earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in 1953 and master’s in education from the University of Memphis in 1958. She also attended Stephens College and what was then known as Southwestern at Memphis, now Rhodes College. Martha Jane is survived by her children, Martha Katherine (“Jenny”) Tibbs (Thomas Merchant), a physician in Memphis and Eugene Edward Tibbs, Jr. (Stephanie Ortbals-Tibbs), an attorney in Washington, DC, and her grandchildren Sophie Elaine Merchant, Charlotte Claire Merchant, Eugene Edward Tibbs, III, Eleanor Katherine Merchant, John Ralston Tibbs, and Robert Coleman Tibbs. She is preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Eugene Edward Tibbs, and her brother, John Thomas Pullen, III. A visitation will be held at Memphis Funeral Home located at 5599 Poplar Avenue on Sunday, October 24, from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM. The family will hold a private burial service. Donations may be made in her name to the Tennessee Genealogical Society to honor her passions of history, research, and genealogy.


  • John Thomas Pullen, Jr. and Martha Frances Gragg Pullen, Parents (deceased)
  • Martha Katherine (“Jenny”) Tibbs (Thomas Merchant) and Eugene Edward Tibbs, Jr. (Stephanie Ortbals-Tibbs), Children
  • Sophie Elaine Merchant, Charlotte Claire Merchant, Eugene Edward Tibbs, III, Eleanor Katherine Merchant, John Ralston Tibbs, and Robert Coleman Tibbs, Grandchildren
  • Dr. Eugene Edward Tibbs, Husband (deceased)
  • John Thomas Pullen, III, Brother (deceased)

  • the Tennessee Genealogical Society


  • Visitation

    Sunday, October 24, 2021


Martha Jane Pullen Tibbs

have a memory or condolence to add?

Andrea Woody

October 23, 2021

My heartfelt condolences to all the family. As a friend of her daughter's, I will always remember Mrs. Tibbs for her creativity, her sense of adventure, her enthusiasm for life, and her warm encouragement. She helped me settle in to dorm rooms in college and offered words of advice when I was a new mom. She was always smiling. Her mischievous streak was a quiet reminder to me, and others, to live fully, have some fun, and celebrate being with people you love. What a kind, bright soul.

Frances Gragg Warren

October 19, 2021

Martha Jane was such a sweet lady and a distant relative of mine through Gragg, McDaniel and Coleman families.
She is the one who got me interested me in genealogy and I met with her a few times for her to show me the land that our ancestors settled when they moved to Shelby and Tipton counties Tennessee.
God rest her wonderful soul and God bless her family RIP
Frances Gragg Warren