WILMINGTON — Martha C. Vann was born on February 5, 1933, to the late William Harry Curlee and Helen Morgan Curlee in Thomasville, NC.
She attended Thomasville City Schools through the 10th grade at which time she transferred to Salem Academy in Winston Salem for the last two years of high school. She graduated in 1951 as President of the Senior Class and accompanist for the Salem Academy Glee Club.
Martha was presented at the 1951 Terpsichorean Debutante Ball in Raleigh, NC, and at the Governor’s Ball the same year for newly elected Governor Umstead. She entered Duke University in the fall of 1951 where she accompanied the Women’s Glee Club and directed the Duke Chapel Choir of 200 members three times. She graduated with honors and three majors in piano, choral direction and education.
She married her Duke sweetheart James Earl Vann, a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, in October 1955. They moved to Clinton in 1958 and reared their three girls. Martha had 36 piano students and directed the First Methodist Chancel Choir for 22 years.
The family moved to Cary in 1980 and established a Methodist Church in their home with 15 members. Martha played piano for services and began a choir of 10 members, which grew to 40 in one year. Today, that church, Saint Francis United Methodist Church seats over 2000 members.
Jim and Martha retired to Wilmington in 1987 and were members of Grace United Methodist Church and in both the Chancel Choir and Bell Choir.
Martha was preceded in death by her husband of 57 years and daughters Martha Morgan Vann at age 33 and Elizabeth Vann Adkins at age 63.
Surviving is her daughter Perry Vann Schafer of Stowe, VT and an adopted son, Mamoru Kubota of Louisville, KY. There are six grandchildren, DeLana Adkins, Vann Adkins, Helen Schafer, Annie Schafer, Maria Schafer and David Kubota. There are three great grandchildren, Cameron Edwards, Andy Adkins and Amelia Edwards.
Martha was a member of the Thursday Morning Music Club of which she was president for two years. She was an avid bridge player, pianist and puzzle enthusiast.
In lieu of flowers please direct donations to Alzheimer’s research at the Mayo Clinic: philanthropy.mayoclinic.org.
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