O'Rafferty High Senior Class of 1965
Marty (Wackerly) Hermes

Obituary for Martha Hermes

Martha Christa Hermes passed away peacefully in New Port Richey, FL on July 20, 2020 at the age of 73.

She was born on March 2, 1947 in Lansing, Michigan to William and Rosemary Wackerly, and was the oldest of three girls. Martha (or “Marty,” as she became known in her adult years) attended Holy Cross Elementary School and graduated from J.W. O’Rafferty High School in Lansing, MI in 1965. After graduation, she got her first job as a telephone switchboard operator with Michigan Bell Telephone Co. She was introduced to Michael Hermes by his oldest brother, who happened to live next door, and they married in May of 1968. Together they raised three beautiful daughters, Gwendolyn Ericks, Amy Huth, and Krista Odette. After a 29-year marriage, Marty and Mike divorced but continued to be friends through the years.

While raising her children, Marty was still very active in her community. She volunteered in her three daughters' activities in school and at Holy Cross Church, where they attended as a family for many years.
She also served as President of the Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary at Richard Council 788 in Lansing. While a member of the Auxiliary, she was asked to start a program called Knights Daughters with her good friend, Betty Schafer. Marty and Betty helped form numerous Circles throughout the state. Mike and Marty also ran a catering business in Lansing for many years. Mike did the cooking (thank goodness!) and Marty did the planning, organizing and decorating for each event. In 1989, Marty and Mike moved their family to northern Michigan (Benzie County) where they owned “The Alpine Restaurant” for a few years. She also worked at several local businesses in the area, one of her favorites was the Ben Franklin Store, which nurtured her love of crafts.

Marty had many gifts and natural talents, one of which was painting. She enjoyed creating various landscapes, and taught art classes at many assisted living facilities in Florida. If you own one of her many paintings, you are so blessed--she didn’t give those away easily! After moving to Florida, Marty loved working part time for St. Luke’s Eye Clinic in Tampa. She eventually became a resident at Magnolia Manor ALF, Rocky Creek ALF, and finally settled down at Brookdale Senior Living in New Port Richey, Florida. This Great Lakes girl absolutely loved the water. Many times she would just take a long drive, pull off at a beach, get her paint and canvas out of the trunk and paint for hours. The results were breathtaking. She spent her last 17 years in Florida, making many friends along the way. Due to COVID-19, it has even very difficult to have any sort of arrangements at this time. Her family is respecting her wishes for her daughters to all be together on the water in honor of her memory.

‘’Martha was preceded in death by her parents, and her former husband, Michael Hermes, who passed away in 2018. Martha was also very recently predeceased by her brothers-in-law, Richard Ludman and Joseph Kelly, both of Michigan, as well as by Mike's three brothers and two of their wives.

She is survived by her children, Gwendolyn Ericks of Lansing, Michigan, Amy (Michael) Huth of Odessa, Florida, and Krista (Andy) Odette of Frankfort, Michigan. Marty absolutely adored her six grandchildren: Taylor and Alexa Akers, Kayla and Tyler Huth, Madison and Matthew Odette, and her one great-granddaughter, Camryn Koval. She is also survived by her two sisters, Marilyn Ludman of Brooklyn, MI and Mary Ellen Kelly of Eaton Rapids, MI, as well as many loving nieces and nephews.


Martha Wackerly Hermes Family ( Marty)
Gwen Akers - oldest and far left, me, Krista Odette - youngest,
far right Amy Huth - middle daughter

October 2009

How does one even begin to concisely write their life's experience over a 42 year life span?

I have procrastinated, thought, remembered and recanted the tales of experiences of my life and this is my final edition. The tale of an imaginative woman. First let me begin by saying, I didn't obtain a degree from a certified college, unless a degree in social skills and knowledge is accredited from the "University of Life's Experiences", then I have obtained credentials above par for anyone…..

Upon graduation, actually a month before, I began to work for good ol' Ma Bell as a long distance telephone operator and graduated up the ladder to a Senior Operator and eventually transferred to Customer Service as a billing rep. Yup Bill Bergin, the math scholar, I was working with figures…unreal isn't it? But the numerical field didn't stop there, in-between and during the finest profession of my career, being a Mother raising 3 beautiful girls, I continued on: I sold Real Estate during the economic downturn of the 80's when adjustable rate mortgages were born and exceeded the sales of others in the office as top sales person, 6 months after leaving the field. Amazing.

Then along the way, my then husband had a hair brained idea of owning his own restaurant, and I wanting more then anything to live near the water, worked hard to make a huge move from Lansing to Thompsonville MI, near Crystal Mt Ski Resort. We operated a small family style restaurant with the help of our girls for almost 3 years with NOT one lick of working capital, kept 2 houses afloat (one in Lansing which took forever to sell) and the one in beautifully scenic Copemish Heights, as I fondly refer to the rural refurbished school house. The girls were excited to be part of our new venture, leaving a class A school, Everett, and finishing in the North, at Benzie Central….what a change for all of us. Gwen had already graduated from Everett before we left Lansing.

It was during that time I taught myself bookkeeping skills and small business management, advertising, budget control and marketing as well as customer relations….a 4 year degree so to speak in less than 1 year. Whew! Am I nuts or what. We ended up giving the restaurant back. Then came divorce after 28 years and numerous job changes and moves. I eventually lived in Traverse City and could see a smidgeon of the bay from my tiny studio apartment on Front Street…..A dream come true.

During this time, my girls grew very far away from me, we didn't have much of a connection at all for over 10 years, the most difficult time of my entire life. They gave birth to my 6 grandchildren, 2 boys and 4 girls and after I relocated to Florida due to lack of employment in Traverse City we began to re-bond. To discover the joys and gifts all of us have to share and have reconnected in a fabulous manner, except that 2 of the girls, the oldest, Gwen and the two oldest grandchildren, Taylor and Lexi and their Dad Bill, live in Wayland and the youngest, Krista, her husband Andy and my beautiful little "red haired" girl, Madison and brother Matthew live in Benzie, MI very near Frankfort on Lake Michigan.

Amy and her husband Michael and their two children, Kayla and Tyler welcomed me into their home, I slept on their couch for 3 months, then they moved, I rented a room, and then moved to Tampa closer to my work in the real estate division of GTE Federal Credit Union in Ybor City. I was blessed…and then unexpectedly encountered an episode with uterine cancer cells and lost that position when I returned from a full hysterectomy and double cataract surgery to boot.

Finally moving to Safety Harbor a place I visited over 12 years earlier and stood on the Main St and declared, "Some day I want to live here". Well, God has always been known to work in the 11th hour with me. So this was no surprise I would live here 13 years after my divorce, and still single, but ever looking for the special guy He has in mind for me, one can never give up hope. Remind me to tell you about the jeans on the bedpost story at the reunion.

My life's accomplishments also include: Co-founding of the Knights Daughters a recognized group for teenage girls while in Lansing, coordinated 2 parades, was an editor of a monthly fraternal publication, Chair of the Knights of Columbus 75th Anniversary and co authored the Anniversary Booklet recanting the history of the organization with my sister, Mary Ellen Kelly, taught myself how to paint on canvas with acrylics and am proficient with them now and have my own website: www.brushstrokesbyhermes.com, I blog and have two sites: www.twofish13.wordpress.com and one for our area to help people find resources in a crisis, www.tampabaysolutionsandconnections.wordpress.com, which incorporate my love of writing.

There have been numerous avenues to use my creativity with things such as grant writing, organizing a fundraiser for our local elementary school in Thompsonville, MI with a turn back of time to celebrate the death of Elvis, our diner turned into a 50's replica complete with a classic car show, White Castle Blue Plate Specials, and two performances by a downstate Elvis impersonator who donated his time and the Crystal Mt resort their room and we fed his family for the weekend….It was a blast…first time ever I wore a poodle skirt, talk about nostalgia.

Through all my life's experiences including trips to New England, Chicago and driving the 1400 miles here all by myself, my faith and personal relationship with the Lord has grown tremendously, I have shed my rigid Catholic rules for a non denominational church, but always give credit to who I have become to the roots of my schooling and churching in the Catholic Faith, it has been a definite anchor and foundation for my life now. In 2007 I gave my heart to the Lord and was baptized. I cannot enumerate here all the unique and miraculous ways the Lord has touched my life, I have truly become a planter of seeds and an encourager of others, my position if you will for Him. My faith is my rock and stability as it always has been.

I hope to travel more and to enjoy my grandkids in both worlds and share my life with that someone special if that's meant to be….I at the least hope I will not be fully employed at the age of 85! There's still so much of life I want to taste, touch, see and hear….people to meet and old friends to connect with, there really needs to be much more time in the day.

Let's hope Gene uses his talents and re-writes this long winded description of "my life" before his publication costs all of us an arm and a leg….Until the reunion, I will be there…life is too precious not to reconnect and I thank Linda Slucter and Scott Taylor for teaching me that fact.

May God continue to shower His blessings upon all of us….the fabulous class of 1965!