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Lehigh Carbon Community College

By Suzy Alstrin

A remarkable Reinhardt alumna celebrated her 105th birthday on November 11th, and the Reinhardt community would like to extend its warmest wishes. Martha Jo (Boston) Carmichael Lingefelt has lived and worked in Cherokee County since her birth on Armistice Day in 1918. She lived with her two older brothers Klevin and Ford, and their parents Lonie and Paul, in a home on Bartow Street in Waleska, where Cline Park and the Paul Boston trail are now.

Paul Boston attended Reinhardt in the early 1900s and was in the ROTC band. Martha also developed a love for music. When that passion started growing as a young girl, her mother took in Reinhardt students’ laundry to make money for piano lessons. Martha would ride with the mailman to Atlanta to see her instructor.

Martha and her brothers attended Reinhardt for high school and college where they were all very active in clubs and sports. Martha, who studied music and became renowned for her piano ability, made the Reinhardt newspaper regularly in the 1930s. She accompanied the Glee club, played recitals, was on the operetta cast, and was a pianist at the chapel and for the Pierces and Alphas. She was a member of the International Relations Club, Vice President of Phi Alpha Literary Society, and played basketball. Before graduating in 1938, she was voted Miss Reinhardt which gave her great pride. She remembers the fire that destroyed a boys’ dormitory along with fond memories of students who lived on campus having gatherings at her house. “It was so good,” she said with a giggle.

Amy (Carmichael) Cartledge ’96 is one of six others in the family to attend Reinhardt since then. She says her great-grandparents were so proud of Martha for her success at Reinhardt, that many have carried on the tradition over the generations, “It meant a lot to me to continue the tradition and to know that I was walking the same campus as my grandparents.”

While at Reinhardt, she met her future husband, Trammel Carmichael, while playing the piano for his brother’s revivals. After working on her family’s farm, she didn’t intend to marry a farmer, but the two ended up raising cattle and chickens as well as growing crops and had a small community grocery store. Instead of accepting a scholarship to the Atlanta Conservatory of Music, she taught at Avery Elementary School and she was the pianist at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hickory Flat for 62 years. She currently plays for the enjoyment of other residents at her assisted living facility, including the piece she played at her Reinhardt recital.

Trammel also taught and coached basketball at Avery, until being elected Commissioner of Cherokee County. During his 24 years as the sole commissioner, he built and paved over 500 miles of roads, not wanting to see schools closed due to muddy streets or people having difficulty getting to their homes. “My grandparents were very giving people and did a lot for the community,” Amy recalled.

Martha and Trammel were married for 53 years before his passing. They had four children, 13 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren, and another on the way. At age 80, Martha married Elmer Lingefelt. They enjoyed camping and other activities until his passing 19 years later.

Martha says she attributes her long life to her music, her faith in God, and laughter. Her daughter Connie Green says “She was always making us laugh at home, even when not intentional, and the house was filled with music. People would come over to practice singing with her playing, and church and God were always an important part of our lives.”

An article in the Reinhardt Hiltonian newspaper in 1937 wrote, “Can you imagine Martha Jo Boston without music?” At her birthday party, her family says they can’t imagine what life would have been like without her.