Piner Hall at Arbor Acres following the memorial service
1240 Arbor Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104
Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
Centenary Methodist Church
646 West Fifth Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
Nov 22, 1935 - Apr 14, 2018
“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.”
Martha Bond Hilburn lived a life filled with enthusiasm, music, books, and service to others. When “MB” saw a person in pain, she rushed in to offer help or solace. When she read a book or listened to a symphony, that work of art became for her one of humankind’s crowning achievements. When she prepared a meal for guests, three entrees and four desserts seemed to her to be the right number. Life sparkled with joy and wonder for Martha Bond. While it is tempting to say that those of us who knew her will not continue to see that same luster, this would do a disservice to her memory. Martha Bond shared with us her music, and her curiosity, and her love, and those things live on in us.
Martha Bond Cook was born in Brewton, Alabama in 1935, the elder daughter of The Reverend Ted Montague Cook and Martha Dell Cook. MB was proud of the theatrical skills of her younger sister, Carole, but Martha Bond was pulled to music. As a preacher’s kid in the South, MB absorbed the rituals and rhythms of the church. The Christian ideals of love and service animated her entire life, but found perhaps their highest expression for her in the form of sacred music.
Martha Bond enrolled in Wake Forest College, then a small Baptist institution in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Martha Bond was a member of the first class of Demon Deacons to graduate from the new “Reynolda Campus” in Winston-Salem. Her entry in the 1957 yearbook reveals a variety of activities, including being a founding member of the S.O.P.H. Society, sweetheart of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity (whose Vice President, Marvin Gentry, she married), and graduating Phi Beta Kappa. While it may be apocryphal, the family has always said that Ed Wilson, “Mr. Wake Forest,” called her one of his smartest students.
Settling in King, North Carolina, Martha Bond and Marvin raised two children, Ted and Priscilla. Martha Bond threw herself into motherhood with the same enthusiasm she showed for other tasks – serving as Cub Scout Den Mother; sewing Ted a Robin the Boy Wonder costume; desperately trying to find someone to teach Ted to swim and pronounce his “L’s”; diligently guarding Priscilla from tree nuts; somehow coaxing both of them to play the bassoon; and sewing drum major outfits for them. Martha Bond also conveyed to them her love of words and reading. She pointed them in the direction of good books, and effortlessly dropped unusual words into everyday conversation. (It amused her to tell the story on herself of approaching a librarian when she was young and asking for a “scintillating” book – pronouncing the word with a hard “c.”)
At the same time, Martha Bond was touching innumerable lives outside her family. She taught a full schedule of private piano lessons in the afternoon. She played piano for the high school chorus and for local productions of musicals. She taught high school Sunday School for years, before eventually graduating to teach senior adults. And she played the piano (and sometimes conducted the choir) at King First Baptist Church. MB and organist Joyce Simmons worked tirelessly to prepare accompaniments and duets that elevated worship at that country church to a level that would have been the envy of many larger congregations.
After Martha Bond and Marvin divorced, Martha Bond married Art Lopez, a gentle soul and accomplished clarinetist. Brought together by their love of music, the two of them welcomed a new phase of life together as Ted and Priscilla each married and started families of their own. Martha Bond unashamedly wooed her new in-laws: inviting Ted’s fiancée Mary Moore over for raucous dinners (ostensibly “cooking lessons”) while Ted was away in Germany; preparing lima beans for Priscilla’s husband David every meal after she learned he liked them; and once, to Mary’s mingled delight and horror, cutting a pie into four pieces because that’s how many were present for dinner. She of course reveled in her grandchildren and found them to be magnificent.
Throughout this time, Martha Bond went quietly about the business, learned when she was young, of serving those who needed a touch. With a meal, a card, or a visit she quietly showed love to everyone around her. To this day, it remains common for her children to hear expressions of gratitude from beneficiaries of MB’s bounty.
She was a dedicated, if somewhat zany, correspondent. Her letters – and later emails – were welcome and uninhibited reminders of how much joy can be found in life. At college, granddaughter Tory’s hallmates eagerly awaited letters from MB, which they found delightful. But Martha Bond’s letters were more than idle entertainment. She wrote faithfully to those she knew were hurting, finding yet another way to touch those who came within her orbit.
Martha Bond found companionship in two devoted canine friends, Saki the pug and Rusty the Bichon.
After husband Art’s death, MB found yet another musical calling, acting as the conductor for the “Sharps and Flats” musical group at Arbor Acres in Winston-Salem. This engagement led to her third marriage, to Harold Hilburn. Harold had a robust singing voice and played the baritone, and the two of them found joy in making music together.
The years of her life after Harold’s death were, to be blunt, cruel. A series of small strokes left this lover of life, of music, and of words progressively less able to play music, to read, to speak, and to reach out to help others. We know that she wanted to offer humor and encouragement to her many friends, children, and grandchildren. But her mind and body did not cooperate. In those last days, she benefited from the fine care at Arbor Acres, where she became a resident, and from the dedicated visits of friends and loved ones, including especially Fran Lucas and Elaine Wood.
Still, those of us blessed to know her have a rich storehouse of memories of the love and laughter she gave us. We pray that she knew to the end how much that meant to us.
Martha Bond is survived by her sister, Carole Armistead (Jack), of Birmingham, Alabama and her family; by MB’s son Ted Gentry, his wife Mary, and their three children Tory, Maddy, and Worth (all of Greenville, S.C. but Tory, who lives in Washington, D.C.); and by her daughter Priscilla Wood, her husband David, and their two children Gentry and Lydia (all of Durham, N.C.).
A memorial service will be held on Sunday April 22 at 1:30 p.m. at Centenary Methodist Church, 646 West Fifth St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101, followed by a reception in Piner Hall at Arbor Acres, 1240 Arbor Rd., Winston-Salem, NC 27104.
In lieu of flowers, sing a hymn. Re-read a favorite mystery novel. Bake a pie and eat the entire thing with someone you love. Send a card to someone who’s hurting. Those are things that would honor Martha Bond’s memory. (Or send a donation to the music ministry at King Moravian Church, 228 West Dalton Rd., King, NC 27021.)
Online condolences may be sent to www.salemfh.com.
Priscilla -- You were so blessed to have such an amazing lady as your Mom. My sympathy to you and your family.
Elaine Speas Mock
Priscilla, what a lovely message in your mother’s obituary. It was enlightening and a joy to read and learn things I did not know. You were a wonderful child whose name I used often raising my children as a mark of excellence to attain, now I know where that came from. Having lost my own mother regardless of how long they’ve been sick this is a sad, hard time. My heart and love go out to you and your family. I will remember her smile. You remember all she was to so many people. with love, Elaine
I was so fortunate to have known Martha Bond from her years at Arbor Acres. My mother Betty VanGlabeke was a resident and made a friendship with Martha Bond through music. As an organist I was given an opportunity to play piano and organ duets with her for many worship services and we even had 2 special concerts we did for the residents. She was a special lady and I felt honored to call her friend. Her spirit lives on in my heart and in my recordings of our times together. God bless your family during this difficult time. Rest and sing again with Harold, my Mom and the angels.
Ann Martin Neill
What a beautiful quote Martha Bond used in her obituary. "Music
once admitted to the soul becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies". Edward B. Lytton
Music was truly in her soul and she exhibited it always when she performed. I met her through my cousin,John Martin, also a resident of Arbor Acres and pianist for Sharps and Flats. John and Martha Bond gave an amazing concert on Sept.1,2009.It was called "Bach to Broadway", one piano, four hands.
Since John is now deceased, I bet they are already planning a big performance for the other angels.
I treasure her friendship, especially to John. May they both rest in peace. Ann Martin Neill East Bend, NC
WHEN IN OUR MUSIC GOD IS GLORIFIED, AND ADORATION LEAVES NO ROOM FOR PRIDE, IT IS AS THOUGH THE WHOLE CREATION CRIED ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
MARTHA BOND WAS SPECIAL MENTOR AND FRIEND WHEN I BECAME A RESIDENT OF ARBOR ACRES.
"...SO THAT BEING DOERS OF THE WORD AND NOT HEARERS ONLY, WE MAY RECEIVE EVERLASTING LIFE; THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN"