Martha Grisham was truly a big part of Manteca’s heart and soul through much of her 91 years before she passed away on Christmas Eve.
I met Martha at the old City Hall building on Sycamore Avenue 53 years ago after we had moved to town. She was one of the most pleasant people I have ever known. Over the years it was obvious that she didn’t let things stand in her way of getting things done.
“Purpose, commitment and conviction” were the qualities her oldest son, Eron, describes in his mother, saying she was the “tough cop and the backbone of the family,” while their dad Harold was seen as the “nice guy” in family settings.
“They were such a team and iconic to the city,” he stressed.
Harold died seven years ago and laid to rest at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella. Following her funeral rites on Friday she will share his grave – having created an outstanding family from his 36 years in the military and their 64 years of family life, mostly in Manteca.
Martha served as the purchasing agent for the City of Manteca many years ago in the old brick building on Sycamore while Harold accepted a position with the Manteca School District in the bus division. Together they passionately served their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, worked toward the creation of the Manteca Golf Course and the Boys and Girls Club, not to mention her church service with morning chapel for teens in the community.
“Mom followed him all over the world from Washington State to Germany, where we spent three years,” son Eron recounted. “I like to think of them as the epitome of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ who lived through the Great Depression.”
Martha was a leader in early genealogy in family history and personally instructed many in Manteca on how to seek out their family roots. She had traced her roots back to before the birth of Christopher Columbus – a resource her children had access to growing up. Much of those family treasures remain on her computer hard drive today for future generations.
Harold had asked his son Eron to allow his mom to continue living in their home after his death. And, that’s where she stayed with family and church members continually caring for much of her remaining years until she was 85.
Eron said she remained involved in the community up until the last couple of years in her busy life. As a homemaker she was an accomplished woman in the kitchen, having learned how to fry chicken from her days growing up on the family farm in Montana. Her cornbread is remembered as special. She was the youngest girl in the family of nine where she took on any chore that crossed her path. Martha had three older sisters and one younger brother.
After high school in the “Plains of Montana” she enrolled in Business College in Portland, Oregon. She was a devoted mother – without working – until Harold was assigned to a tour in Korea in 1961. That was the year she went to work for the city. Harold was about to complete his 20 years of service in 1962..
Having an outstanding record in medical supply management there was a need for him at Sharpe Army Depot. An administrator at Sharpe learned of his orders and contacted the Pentagon and he was reassigned to the Tracy Depot for the remainder of his tour where he oversaw supplies being sent to Vietnam.
Their church called them to service in the Bishop Storehouse for the region – a two-year commitment from their Manteca home. The storehouse exchanges food and clothing for those in need with the use of script that is given members who do many services for their church community from the simple tasks of pulling weeds to cleaning the grounds and picking fruit. Martha and Harold had done such an exceptional job at their mission that the bishop asked them to extend their service for six months.
Eron also noted that they had established relationships early-on after they arrived in the community. One of their first friends was George Dadasovich – later a real estate broker – who was delivering their clothes from Bobson’s Cleaners in the shop’s van.
Granddaughter Tomie Anne – on of 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren – will be giving the eulogy on Friday that will truly please Martha looking down on the 11 a.m. ceremony at the LDS Stake Center on Northland Road. A viewing will take place and hour earlier. Daughters Lola and Kerry also have happy memories of their mom and dad and will join in the tribute to their mom on Friday with their families at their sides.
“With Mother’s passing, we have found time to look back in our lives and see how special times were for us all then,” Eron said.
He asked that any memorial contributions be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Manteca and Lathrop.