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Gail Lee Martin

Story ID:5211
Written by:OurEcho Admin (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:In The Spotlight
Location:El Dorado Kansas USA
Person:Gail Lee Martin
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Gail Lee Martin

Gail Lee Martin

Gail Lee Martin

Gail Lee Martin

Who is Gail Martin? Think you know her? Read onÖyou may be surprised to learn you really donít.

The obvious answer is that Gail is Scott Lupoís assistant web master on Our EchoÖand at the youthful age of 84, no less. But that doesnít even begin to describe a woman who has written biographies of family members, entered essay contests, submitted articles for newspapers, and who has such a prolific writing career that she puts some well-known authors to shame.

Gailís assignment at Our Echo does entail quite a bit of work on her part, from keeping the Bulletin Board and What People Are Saying sections updated on the front page, as well as making the Editorís Choice, In the Spotlight, and Projects selections. But thatís just her most recently-recognized efforts on behalf of others, since Gail is definitely a woman who has managed to balance writing for pay with writing to help others.

She is one busy woman, serving as the state-wide archivist for the Kansas Authors Club, as well as their district five historian. But in spite of that, she kindly agreed to sit down for a virtual online interview and share how she first became a writer and all that has transpired in her writing life since; which, by the way, now also includes writing for eHow. So grab a coffee or a soda and read on to learn more about this amazing person.

Gail started out young as a writer, "playing around on the Big Chief tablets back in grade school," but it wasnít until the 1980ís that financial recognition for her writing work was first realized.

Serving as a member and reporter for Motherís Art EHU, Gail wrote and collected a notebook full of published newspaper articles during her three-years as a reporter with EHU, winning $25 for each consecutive yearís efforts, as well as first-place recognition in the county.

She wrote without financial incentive about her grandfather in 1984 for the Tower Genealogical Society, as well as several biographies of family members in 1986 (this time for the Greenwood County Kansas History Books - Volumes I and II). So she is no stranger to using her writing skills for the benefit of others and for posterity. In fact, when I asked her what was the most meaningful thing to her that she had written, her response was, "Stories of our familyís lives. Since Iím the eldest left in my family, when Iím gone so will the stories be gone."

In 1987, Gail entered her article, "The Golden Crossroads," in the Jessie Perry Stratford Butler County Historical Essay Contest and won honorable mention, as well as $10.

In 1992, she submitted her "I was Chosen for the Federal Grand Jury" article and took home honorable mention and $25 for it as well. In the same year, Gail began writing articles for Kanhistiqe Magazine, writing four articles for them that year and earning a total of $56. The next year, in 1993, she wrote eight articles for the magazine and earned over $137.

Also in 1993, she earned another honorable mention and $25 for her article entitled "15,942 Working Hours," about her job at Century Plastic.

Her article, "A Journey from the Past on the Little Ranger," netted her $50 and the Award of Merit in 1994. But it was just one of many articles she wrote that year. Some articles that year were again written for Kanhistique Magazine--others were written for different publications. In 1995, she hit the $100 prize money mark Ė and claimed the Trusteeís Award - for her article submission, "Triumphs of a Country Woman." But 2004 turned out to be the year she realized her greatest financial gain, as well as greater local recognition from her writing: she took home First Place, $200, and a one-year museum membership for her article, "Did you Know Jack," about a WWII Fighter Ace named Wilbur Jackson Thomas.

Two years later, in April of í06, Gail stumbled upon Our Echo after seeing something about it in the Kansas Authorís Club News. Fellow Kansas writer, Nancy Kopp, had already begun posting on Our Echo by then too.

But Gailís past is littered with many other writing efforts. In fact, there are so many it would be impossible to detail them all in such a short space, as they span many years and many varied accomplishments. But while some of these other writings were not ever recognized monetarily, they were acknowledged in other significant ways: certificates of appreciation, awards of honor, and verbal accolades that would make a Sunday school teacher blush (which she was for five years, and was even recognized for that contribution in 1967).

When I asked Gail who inspired her to write, she said that if anyone had it would have been God, since she has always just had to write. Her writing mentors were her mother, Ruth McGhee; her youngest sister, Carol Garrett; and her daughters Cindy Ross and Ginger Allain, all prolific writers themselves in her esteemed opinion.

So whatís next for Gail? According to her, she wants to put pen to paper on some more family stories - while she can still remember them - and then she will be ready to retire.

As active as this lady has been in her life, I just donít see retirement in her future. Do you?

Jan Morris/Radell June 25, 2009