Martin Edward Eslinger, 100, was born Nov. 30, 1912, and passed away July 16, 2013, at Via Christi Village, Ponca City, OK.
Born and raised on a farm west of Virgil City in Vernon County, Martin was next to the youngest in a family of seven children, son of Martin Edward Eslinger and Mary Kate Wilkerson Eslinger.
Martin attended Oak Grove School District 128 his first eight years, then Montevallo High School and graduated in 1931 from Nevada High School. He also attended Southwest Teacher College in Springfield and Pittsburgh State College, Fry Aircraft School in Kansas City and special training in California at Vo Tech School on radios.
Radios always fascinated Martin and later they became his career as he repaired and serviced them. He got his first radio in 1928, saw his first TV in 1940 at the Worlds Fair in San Francisco and then in 1951 while working for Sears, he worked on his first TV. A member of the Farmers Market, Eslinger Gardens began in 1973. He raised a variety of produce from his garden
Martin taught school in Vernon and Cedar Counties, and worked at Ellis’ Music Store before going to San Diego, CA, to work as lead man on the assembly line in Building #4 at Consolidated Vultee Air Craft Corporation working on the B-24. Following WW II he was a radio repairman for JR Townsend Co. then returned to Nevada where he retired from Sears after nearly 25 years of service as a service technician due to failing eye sight.
Martin Edward Eslinger and the former Mildred Leota Smith were married Aug. 21, 1937, in Nevada. The couple resided at 512 South Cedar for over 60 years. They welcomed their first child, Karen Sue Eslinger, in San Diego in 1944 and later Connie Lou Eslinger in Nevada in 1949.
Family was very important to Martin as he took his wife and children on numerous trips around the country, taught the girls how to fish and later took his various grandchildren on vacation to Branson, fishing at his Bronaugh Lake property or to spend a week at the grandparents’ house.
Martin was proud to see his family succeed and celebrated not only his daughter’s graduation from the PhD program at the University of Texas in Austin, attending his last grandchild’s wedding in 2008 or holding each of his three great-granddaughters.
In November 2006, Martin and Mildred moved to an apartment at Via Christi Retirement Village in Ponca City, OK, during which time he buried his wife of almost 70 years of marriage in 2007.
An active member of Pine Street Baptist Church, in Nevada, Martin was a deacon for 50 years, served as a trustee for 20 years, was director of Sunday School and Church Training, and taught in the Young Peoples Department. In November 2006, he was honored with Deacon Emeritus.
Martin enjoyed a long life with many experiences and a few challenges. However, he quickly adapted to work these challenges to be able to continue living One Day at a Time and encouraging others in his path. Martin finished well.
Martin was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Mildred Smith Eslinger; sisters – Mabel and Joe Kinney, Fern and Hi Ferry, Leona and Paul Breedlove, Irene and Howard Trimble, Thelma and Dick Gettings; infant brother, John Eslinger; brother-in-laws, Ernie and Norma Smith and Wilmer and Jessie Smith.
Martin is survived by daughters, Connie Eslinger – Houston, TX, and Karen Eslinger Cripps and husband, Ray – Ponca City, OK; grandchildren – Lonnie and Shelia Cripps – Springdale AR., Rodney and Sarah Cripps – Lancaster, SC and Danny and Kathy Gossen – Edmond OK; great-granddaughters, Mackenzie Cripps – Bella Vista, AR and Heidi and Sophie Gossen – Edmond, OK, as well as four nieces and one nephew.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions to the Martin and Mildred Eslinger Scholarship Fund at the Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar through Ferry Funeral Home, P O Box 284 Nevada, Missouri 64772. This scholarship was set up in 2000 by their daughters to honor their parents and to encourage young people to further their education in a Christian setting.
Services will begin at 10:30, Friday, July 19, in the Pine Street Baptist Church, Nevada, with Pastor Rodney Cripps officiating. Interment will follow in the Virgil City Cemetery, Virgil City. Friends may call until the hour of service with visitation from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. prior to the service.