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Published on: Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lucile Sissell Martin Hall: 2011

Former longtime resident of Montgomery County, Lucile Sissell Martin Hall, died May 10, 2011 in Batesville, MS of complications and infection following a fall and break to the leg prior to her death.  She was 75.  Grave side services were held on May 15th at Hazlehurst Cemetery, Hazlehurst, MS, at the Martin family graves’ site.

Born in Brookhaven, Mississippi on July 23, 1935 to Lealon Eldridge Applewhite Martin  5/31/1910-12/5/1996)) and Lucile Sissell Martin (5/13/1913-1/3/2003), Lucile, called “Cile” by the family, was their first child.  Her father worked at that time as an English teacher and drivers’ education instructor with the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Her father’s family was in Canton, MS and her mother’s family was in the Water Valley, MS area.

Moving with her parents, and often staying with one or the other parents’ families while the move was being organized, and a home found, she lived in a number of places around the country during her childhood.  From Brookhaven, the family moved to New Orleans where her father worked as a editor and publicist.  They enjoyed life in Morgan City and then New Orleans where Cile attended the Mardi Gras parades with her parents, bringing home the traditional beads and treasures thrown by the parade crews’

In 1942, her father became a photo journalist with the Associated Press, and the family moved to Atlanta, GA.  Later that year, he joined the Public Health Service as Asst. Chief of VD Technical Services, a job which took him to Washington, D.C. area briefly and then to Los Angeles to make educational films.  Also, her mother had family there.  Cile enjoyed late elementary school and her early teen years there, in Alhambra, CA (a near L.A. suburb).  Big family gatherings were a happy norm, and she became close with many Sissell family cousins– all doubles, since in her grandfather’s (John Reuel Sissell’s) parents’ generation, two Sissell brothers had married two Harris sisters in Kansas before one couple moved to MS and one to California in the early 20th century.  Cile celebrated the end of World War II there with the clan gathered all around.  During the war, her uncle William P. Sissell from Mississippi served in the Army, and sadly her elder uncle John Reuel Sissell, Jr. served in the Navy and died in Japan.

In 1948, Lucile moved with her parents back to suburban Washington, D.C. when her father became Chief of the Heart Information Center, of the newly formed National Heart Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.   There Cile enjoyed an active social life while attending and graduating from Bethesda-Chevy Chase Senior High School in 1953.  She was a drum majorette, was inducted into Job’s Daughters, and often attended teas and dances at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.    She also developed a lifelong passion for ice skating.  She often went for long sojourns ice skating on the reflecting pool and other Washington area skating “hangouts.”  She was very athletic, able to do cartwheels and other acrobatics, so her skill at skating was no surprise. 

On July 3, 1950, Lucile’s sister, her only sibling, Lynne Elise Martin (married Bowman) was born.  Lucile was almost 15.   The family had just moved from their Rockville home to 4721 Cumberland Avenue, Chevy Chase, in the historic incorporated Town of Somerset, where her parents would live until 1987.  To this day the house is called “the Martin house.”

 

After graduation from B-CC HS in 1953, Lucile attended the University of Maryland at College Park where she became a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, living at the Sorority house on campus.  She was an art education major, and among her class projects, she completed an excellent song and story book for children which she illustrated herself.  She was in the U.MD art department at the same time as Jim Henson, the famous Muppet puppeteer.  It was at the University  that she met her future husband, Robert , “Bob,” A. Hall (3/17/1936- 11/9/2010).  Prior to their marriage, she left college to work at N.I.H. and prepare for her upcoming wedding after his graduation.  She enjoyed being a “working gal” for that time.  

She had always been hard working and very enterprising.  During college and high school summers, she had worked as a waitress at Howard Johnson’s, introducing the family to what became an ice cream favorite–  pistachio.  Earlier, as soon as she was old enough, she had done baby sitting, earning money for various goals; for example, she earned enough to buy a beautiful and classic four poster bed with arched canopy that she had for the rest of her life.   In addition to making money, she was quite industrious in the sewing crafts: she could sew, knit, crochet, tat, make rugs (braided)– all with great skill.  Her output over her life of afghans, sweaters, scarves, other garments and items was phenomenal.  She was very like her mother, her namesake, in her excellent ability in these crafts.

On March 23, 1958, Lucile married Robert Hall at Chevy Chase Methodist Church with college friend, Gloria Weigel (U.MD 1959)(married Andrews) as her maid of honor.  The couple enjoyed a snowy honeymoon in the Pennsylvania Adirondacks, coming home to establish their first home, an apartment in Bethesda, where he was employed by AT &T.  Soon after, however, Robert had to fulfill his college ROTC obligation, and was enrolled with the Navy at Officers’ Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, where Cile and he moved in the fall of 1958.  It was there that their first child, Donald Martin Hall was born November 12th.  Lucile enjoyed motherhood amidst beauty of historic Newport, touring the magnificent homes of the Vanderbilts and others with her mother who came to help in the first weeks after the birth.

Robert’s first Naval assignment after graduating as Lieutenant, JG, was on the island of Guam in the Mariana Islands of the Pacific.  Cile had the difficult task of taking infant Donald and moving their household half a world away to a tropical environment.   All her early travels likely helped her in this task.   It was on Guam, that she and Bob had their second and last child, Cilyne Hayes Hall, born June 23, 1960.  In addition, of course to long distance phone calls, “Cile” made a creative birth announcement for her baby girl: a miniature black and white newspaper with all the “news” of Cilyne, named for both herself and younger sister, Lynne.

Later that year, when Bob’s tour of duty was done, Cile and the family moved back to suburban Washington, where Bob returned to work at AT&T.  While Bob flew on a military flight, she and the children flew separately.   Her father, Lealon, flew to San Francisco to meet her and the two young children, and fly back with them, as a help on the long last leg of a long flight from Guam.  That fall of 1960, Cile and Bob and the two children lived with her parents and Lynne, celebrating Christmas and the New Year 1961 there, while the couple looked for their first house.   Early that year, they found a small, but cozy house in Bethesda, MD on Montauk Avenue, with a lovely yard for the children to play in.  Cile decorated it with in early American style, slipcovering furniture, making curtains, and adding lots of creative touches.  Decorating was one of her many talents.  

In the mid-1960's the family moved from Bethesda out to Gaithersburg, MD to the planned community known as Montgomery Village.  With shops, homes, apartments, schools, and parks, it was one of the first of its kind in the Washington area.  Cile and her family enjoyed moving into a home which they had seen built: a brick, two story colonial.  There, Cile saw her children grow– Donald became a Junior Olympian swimmer, Cilyne enjoyed skating and her kitties.  They got a cocker spaniel, named for the children– “Doci.”  She enjoyed her close friendships, including that of Joan Piscopo.    Importantly, Cile continued her interest in crafts and antiques, beginning to work for the antiques shop that was once at Comus Inn “up county,” developing her knowledge and continuing to collect early American primitive pieces, like a dry sink and drop-leaf table.  At Comus, she worked for antiques dealer Tish Armstrong, who now has a shop in New Market, MD. 

Cile was also a “hostess with the mostest,” giving well attended parties for family and friends and Bob’s AT&T work colleagues.  Their lives also centered on recovery with gatherings of AA and Cile’s Al-Anon friends, a community which provided not only healing, but deep and lasting friendships.  Cile found help at Al-Anon Family Groups and helped her whole family to recover.

In the mid-1980's, sadly, her marriage ended in divorce.  At this time, Cile chose to move back to Mississippi, the happy place of her childhood.   She moved first to Water Valley, where her mother had been born.  Later, in 1987,  when her parents also had moved back to Mississippi, but to Oxford, Cile  renovated and later moved to a house in the countryside of Batesville, on land her mother deeded to her.  Here, all her decorating skills were exemplified, showcasing early American primitive pieces, collectibles, and her own crafts.    In the meantime, she was already selling  these handmade wooden and fabric pieces (birds, hearts, & more) at the Crafters’ Mall in Water Valley.  Living near  her uncle, William P. Sissell, and his family, and her Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ira Jenkins, Cile enjoyed the countryside; in fact, calling her crafts’ store and work, “Countryside” by “Luci” her artist’s name.  She rescued at least two dogs, called Sunday and Tuesday, who, in turn, provided some security for her in the country.  Later, her son, Donald, now a house painter, moved to Mississippi, eventually living with her.  

In addition to her crafts’, she worked with the Domestic Violence Project in Oxford, helping with the women’s shelter, dealing especially with getting recycled clothing and personal care items, as well as providing some counsel, from her experience and work in Al-Anon.

In 1995, after her mother’s heart attack,  her parents moved to her sister’s town of  Greensboro, North Carolina, where  retirement/ life care communities had  openings.  There they had the care necessary for their final years.  Cile continued to enjoy her crafts and the other family in Batesville.  Sadly, her father died in late 1996, and her Aunt Ruth died in early 1997.  Then, tragically, her son, Donald died in October, 2001.   His death, followed by the death of her mother, Lucile in January, 2003, compounded the losses for Cile, and she herself suffered a stroke which rendered her blind in one eye within the next year.   Due to her blindness and other health difficulties, including lifelong depression-related issues, she later decided to move to  assisted living housing at Fairfield in Batesville.   The downsizing and move were difficult for her.  She had always loved to have her myriad things about her, with many projects going.  She kept up with the news, loved the sentimental and the funny, and enjoyed TV shows like “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” full of tradition and good values.  She loved cashmere and pearls, good gold, and good furniture, and a good Dr. Pepper or a hot cup of coffee, and a cigarette, but most of all, a nice quarter piece of a big watermelon, sliced pink and juicy to eat while sitting on the back porch looking at the old oaks drooping in summer’s heat.

Lucile, “Cile” is survived by her daughter, Cilyne, of Martin’s Ferry, Ohio; her sister Lynne E. Martin Bowman & husband Jim Bowman of Greensboro, NC; her grandson Benjamin Hall Burt of Columbia, MO; her granddaughter, Nicole Burt Young of Knob Noster, MO; and two great-granddaughters, Makayla and Krysta Grace Young also of Knob Noster, MO; her uncle William Parks Sissell and wife, Nanette and family of Batesville, MS; and her cousin, Roberta Martin Moore of Grand Prairie, TX.   She was preceded in death by her son, Donald, her parents, and her former husband, Robert A. Hall (in Bonita Springs, FL).   Memorials may be made to the Domestic Violence Project of Oxford, the United Methodist Church, to Hospice, or to Al-Anon Family Groups. Inquires: lynnejim@att.net.

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