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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Gray Matter: A special woman remembered

Monday, May 7, 2007

(Photo)
In last week's Gray Matter,  I told you of the enthusiasm  created in western Cherokee county, and elsewhere, by the Marcus Historical Society.   Due to that enthusiasm,  several recent conversations have turned to things and people from the past. I thought you might enjoy one of those "people" stories.  It is about  Martha Ament, a remarkable, multi-talented lady whom many may remember.

            First, Martha was a farm-wife.  She and husband, Bill, raised their two children, son Dick and daughter Phyllis, on a farm just outside of town. Canning the garden produce and meat was one of the tasks of most farm women, but I think Martha may have turned it up a notch.  She once told that she came within four quarts of her goal of 1,000 jars in one season, and several other years she wasn't far from that mark ! 

In spite of all her work, she belonged to the Farm Bureau Women, serving a term as county president.  She was  a local 4-H leader and chaired the County 4-H Council for a time.  Martha was a volunteer in the Republican party and also held a state office in the Heart Association.   Meanwhile she wrote for both the Marcus News and  the Cherokee Times, parent of this publication.  Ament worked for Mid-Sioux Opportunities for five years, the only paying job we can recall her holding, with the exception of the incredible catering she did from her home.

            As she was too busy to keep records of that activity, we have to depend on notes kept by a friend who reported that, during the few short years she  kept track, she recorded that Martha had prepared more than 300 meals for at least 100 guests each.  The largest was a wedding dinner for 350 guests, complete with individual frozen salads, each served at just the right temperature!

            Toward the end of her catering career, Mrs. Ament was employed by Westmar College, then in its heyday.  During the school year she prepared refreshments for at least three major receptions.  Each involved at least 1000 cookies, usually of perhaps 10 different types, and a like number of dainty sandwiches, probably of six or more kinds. 

I loved the story she once told of  driving home, following one of those evening receptions, in a cold, dark, downpour.  Not realizing that a car was following her until she reached her own driveway, she stepped from her garage to see who it was.  Quickly rolling down his window, Harry Kalas, then the college president, called, "It's just me.  I wanted to be sure you got home safely."  Backing out, with a wave, he headed back to Le Mars.  That college executive knew a good thing when he had one, and so did many others who cherish memories of  the masterful meals she prepared and served for their special times !

             Martha Ament is just one of the wonderful people the memory of whose lives and times the Marcus Historical Society is intent on preserving !