Parting thoughts: Words to live by

Share story

Lillian Francis Lazenberry Martin.
Lillian Francis Lazenberry Martin at her downtown St. Paul office when she served on the Minnesota Public Utility Commission.

Lillian Francis Lazenberry Martin was many things: a career woman, a mother of six, a civic leader, and a prolific writer.

Lazenberry Martin died on Sept. 13, 2017, at the age of 89 years old.

"She just loved so much — her family, her friends. At her service, so many people, some people that I didn't even know, had so many deeply moving stories about how she supported them when they were in dire need of support," said one of Lazenberry Martin's granddaughters Lauren Miller. "If I were to have six kids, I would just focus on the six kids. And somehow she still found ways to give of herself to other people."

Lazenberry Martin was born in segregated Louisiana in 1928. From an early age she showed the resilience and strength that would define her throughout her life. Miller remembers her grandmother telling her of seeing people lined up to vote and asking her mom if she were going to vote. Her mother said no. She couldn't vote because she was black. Miller says that made her grandmother angry.

"She at a young age had this resolve to change something or really just rebel against what was acceptable," Miller said.

Lazenberry Martin moved up to St. Louis with her family where she met her first husband. From there she moved to Chicago and then Minneapolis.

Lillian Francis Lazenberry Martin.
Lillian Francis Lazenberry Martin, center.

When she arrived in Minnesota in the 1970s, Lazenberry Martin became active in politics and civic organizations. She served on the Minnesota Public Utility Commission as well as the board of Summit Academy and the Minnesota Human Rights Council. Lazenberry Martin also wrote a weekly column called "Women's View" for decades. She even published her address in one of her columns and invited her readers to stop by.

"She just was open," Miller said. "And certainly since she did a weekly column for that many years she just felt connected to her readers."

Click on the audio player above to hear more.