She's witty, sharp as a tack, a joyful person to be around and can tell many stories of her days growing up towards the end of the Great Depression. She volunteers whenever she can at the age of 90. She has been referred to by some as the matriarch of Hotchkiss, whose family moved from Kansas because of the Dust Bowl.
Jacqueline Karen Gellatly was born on June 28, 1932 and is known by her married name, Karen Martin. Martin said she went to school right across from the town hall and senior center, where a boarding house is now located.
"We lived up on the hill," Martin said. "We lived up there and rode our sleds to school in the winter. Since it (the area where town hall is) was an empty lot, we'd run up and down it." She said the area was on a slope at that time.
She remembers sitting around the radio as a child, envisioning things that would later be seen on the TV screen.
Tragedy struck the young family when Martin was five years old. Her mother passed away from pneumonia. For about a year or so, she and her two siblings were separated as a result. Her older sister Kaye continued to live with their dad while her two-year-old brother Gary lived in Montana with an aunt. Martin moved in with her grandmother and her bachelor uncle and attended school in Marble.
After the siblings were reunited, the two girls would take their baby brother to school with them even though he was not of school age yet. "We took care of him," Martin said. "No wonder why he was so smart and was a teacher. He started out pretty young."
They also helped their dad when he bought the grocery store, located where Pat's Bar and Grill is today, from Joe Barnie. She met the love of her life, Harold Martin, at the grocery business after he took a job there.
As young adults, Martin and her older sister lived in Missouri. Harold moved to be with her in Missouri. One year she lived in 13 towns, as her husband was a relief manager for the AMP grocery chain and they stayed in motels all the time.
After living in Missouri for about five years, Martin said she was so happy to be back to where the mountains are standing tall. The young married couple bought Barnie's Grocery from her dad and ran the business for some time.
Martin was employed by the Hotchkiss Herald for several years, performing many duties, including photography, which she still enjoys today. "When I worked for the newspaper, I took pictures that appeared in the paper," Martin said.
Her last full-time job was at State Farm Insurance. Kevin Parks was the agent, and the original location was in Paonia. However, State Farm added a Delta location later and she then began working at that location.
After 20 years of working for State Farm, she retired in 2007, began volunteering at the Hotchkiss Senior Center and being a leader in several organizations. She loved her time working at State Farm and was given a two-person cruise to the Bahamas as a retirement gift, which she and her late husband enjoyed very much.
Martin has been a part of the Emblem Club, which is the female component to the Elks Club, and has served as president of the local club and state president for the organization. She has also belonged to Beta Sigma Phi, the Neighborly Circle Club, the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Society and other organizations. She has served in leadership roles at each. She also serves as the vice president of the Hotchkiss Senior Center Board. She stays busy as a volunteer, but in her free time, she enjoys doing crafts.
Martin also enjoys spending time with her family, which includes daughter Susan, who lives in Lamar, and son Tom who resides in Grand Junction. Martin has two grandchildren, Stacy and Craig, and especially enjoys seeing her three great-grandchildren, Addyson, Jordan and Harper, whenever she can.
Martin has enjoyed visiting New York City, Phoenix, Ariz. and Reno, Nev. Many of her trips were during her time serving as the state president of the Emblem Club while attending conventions. She also took a trip to Florida for her 50th wedding anniversary, which occurred on Oct. 30, 1999. Harold died on June 27, 2014 at the age of 89.
Martin shared a few memories about seeing it snow and her favorite inventions. "The deepest snow that I remember was about 20 inches," Martin said. "My son was working as a carpenter building a home in Paonia." She said it was 32 degrees below zero at that time.
The best inventions she has witnessed in her lifetime were the iron, television and small appliances.
Martin appears to be in excellent health, but a recent fall has hurt her back considerably.
The secret to her long life and good health is "I stay busy. I try to be positive and watch my diet, and I don't smoke or drink."
She misses her siblings, who passed away, but cherishes her friendships at the Hotchkiss Senior Center and other places."If it wasn't for all my friends, I wouldn't be here," Martin said. "I'm fortunate that a lot of my friends have been younger than me."
Many people sing her praises, including Rich Kramer, John Steuben and Lisa Willingham.
Lisa Willingham is happy to consider Martin a friend and said she was one of the first people she met when she relocated to Hotchkiss. Willingham said that Martin's personality aligns with the town limits sign which calls Hotchkiss "the friendliest town around."
"She's a matriarch for Hotchkiss," Willingham said. "She's greatly loved and appreciated by everyone."
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