Rheba Louise Martin Icenhower, 90, of Commerce, died peacefully in Greenville, Texas, after a brief illness. Rheba was born on July 11, 1930 in Commerce, Texas, the daughter of John Oliver Martin and Edith Louise Lamb Martin. The family will receive friends at a visitation to take place on Saturday, September 5, 2020 from 5:00-7:00 pm at Commerce Funeral Home. A funeral will take place on Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Commerce with Reverend Samuel Caldwell officiating. Interment will follow at Rosemound Cemetery in Commerce.
Rheba attended the East Texas State Teachers College Training School, graduating in 1947. Following high school, she entered East Texas State Teachers College, earning her BS in 1950 and her M Ed in 1952. While attending the university, she was a cheerleader, and a member of the Tooanoowe Social Club; later called Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She enjoyed a career in public education, teaching in Grand Prairie, retiring after 40 years. Rheba married the love of her life, Harry Icenhower, in 1952 at the First United Methodist Church of Commerce, where she was a lifelong member. She and Harry enjoyed 66 years together before his death in 2017.
Rheba was an active member of her community and university life. She and Harry were longtime members of the Model A Antique Car Club. Their Model A Ford could be seen in many community parades over the years. Rheba also enjoyed modeling vintage clothing. She would often enhance the presentation of the Model A Ford by wearing period dresses, hats, shoes and accessories while touring in the car. Rheba also enjoyed oil painting and gardening. Above all, though, Rheba will be remembered as one who demonstrated her love for others by speaking her love language, acts of service. She could always be found working to improve the lives of others or seeing that their needs were met.
During her lifetime of service, Rheba was recognized on many occasions for her leadership. For eleven years, she co-coordinated the Bill Martin Symposium. Each year, the Rheba Icenhower Service Award was bestowed on a deserving individual as part of that event. Following her teaching career, she worked with the ETSU student teaching faculty, serving as the Field-Based Teaching Coordinator. She was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Education at the MLK Awards Ceremony organized annually by Dr. LaVelle Hendricks. In 1990, Rheba was awarded the Gold Blazer Service Award, in recognition of her service on the Alumni Board at the university. She is a member of the TAMU-C Alumni Board Emeritus, serving a lifetime appointment. Rheba and Harry established the Harry and Rheba Icenhower Fund; the Naming of the TAMU-Commerce Alumni Center Office Suite in recognition of their support of the university.
Rheba was active in many service clubs in the community. She was a charter member of the Louise Drake Garden Club, a member of the Afflatus Culture Club, the Coterie Culture Club, a charter member of Gamma Phi Beta; a service sorority, the North East Hunt County Retired Teachers Association, and was a long-time member of the Rosemound Cemetery Association. Rheba also served on the committee to restore the Cotton Belt Railroad Depot, a vision that was never realized due to the demise of the building due to fire.
Rheba is survived by her nieces, Betty Martin Roeder (Harlan), Linda Martin Harper (Larry) and Terry Martin Spearman; great niece, Shannon Flynn, great nephew, Paul Roeder, great nieces, Leslie Harper Stonestreet (Jason) and Lauren Harper Taylor (Chris) along with many great-great-nieces and nephews.
Rheba was preceded in death by her loving husband, Harry; her parents, J.O. and Edith Martin and her brothers, Harold Martin and F.M. ”Doggie” Martin.
Serving as pallbearers for Rheba are Larry Harper, Harlan Roeder, Jason Stonestreet, Chris Taylor, Paul Roeder and Shane Schultz.
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