Alice M. Martin Papers, MS 122
Alice Mae Martin, an African American and native of Illinois, came to San Luis Obispo, California in 1942 with her then husband Clarence F. Martin while he was stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo. Following his deployment she moved back to her home base in Montana. She returned to live in San Luis Obispo permanently in 1969.
Martin worked most of her adult life, well into her 70s. During her early working years, she served as a mechanical helper/aircraft fitter and a laundry presser for the U. S. War Department at military camps in Montana and Arizona during World War II. When her husband was transferred to California, she joined him, working at Camp Roberts in Monterey Co., then locally at Camp San Luis Obispo, as a presser. Later on, she operated the steam presses at Paul's Cleaners, a retail dry cleaners still in business today on South Higuera St. Included in the collection is the original apron she wore as part of her work uniform there. She also held jobs as a nanny and housekeeper.
Details of her birth are unconfirmed and among the records in the collection are her queries attempting to establish details about her birthplace and year of birth (variously stated as 1907 and 1912).
She was known for her charitable nature and the donation of hours of community service to her church; affordable housing consortiums; and services for the economically disadvantaged and elderly in the city of San Luis Obispo. She volunteered for many organizations including Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Housing Authority, the Boy Scouts, Grace Church, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army.
A strong advocate of affordable housing, she served as a Commissioner for the Housing Authority for the City of San Luis Obispo for many years. Martin received much recognition for her contributions, most notably on the eve of her 97th birthday when the SLO County Community Foundation honored her for more than 10,000 hours of community service to the City of San Luis Obispo. This honor exemplified her life of service to her church, neighbors, friends, and community.
Martin had only a sixth-grade education, but read extensively, and was an ardent poet. She died in San Luis Obispo, September 11, 2004, at 97 years of age.
"Alice Martin." [Obituary] The Tribune, (San Luis Obispo, CA) 19 Sept. 2004: n.p.
Personal reminiscences, Ruth Smith