Martha Trulester Dortch Wagstaff transitioned on May 3. She was 87. (Photo courtesy the family)

By The Dortch Family 

Martha Trulester Dortch Wagstaff was born on April 14 ,1935 to the late David Ellis and Lucy John Dortch in Wilson County, North Carolina. On May 3, 2021 the sun would set for Martha as she was called to rest.

She lived in North Carolina until she was 16-years old. She then moved to Albany, New York and lived with her Aunt Naomi. From there, she relocated to Maryland With her young son, where she would meet and marry Bobby Wagstaff, who preceded her in death. 

Martha  believed in Jehovah God and was a member of New Shiloh And New Psalmist Baptist Churches. When she was unable to travel, she would frequent the Empowerment Temple, with her children and grandchildren. When she couldn’t get to church, you could catch her every Sunday watching Bishop Walter Thomas, Pastor Donte Hicks of Southern Baptist church and the Empowerment Temple. She loved the Lord and was always open to hear the word.

Martha was passionate about education and helping others. She graduated from Baltimore City Community College with a degree in social work and would follow her passion as a dedicated social worker, servicing Crownsville Hospital Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) and Sinai hospital for 20 years before retiring. 

Although she wanted to be a school teacher, she ultimately became a teacher and mentor for those around her, often sharing gems of wisdom and knowledge. 

Martha also believed in the unifying power of family, community and love. She was a firm supporter of keeping family first and looking out for one another. She also practiced what she preached. In addition to working multiple jobs at once to support her children, Martha would often help her children, nieces and nephews secure jobs. 

She made many sacrifices for others and was known for her thoughtfulness. She became known as the “Card Lady,” as she would send birthday, holiday and thank you cards to everyone. She had great penmanship.

Martha loved connecting with people and when her grandchildren taught her how to use social media,  that’s all she wrote! She would be seen sitting in her recliner chair,  on her phone scrolling through her timeline on Facebook, keeping up with family she may have not seen or heard from in a while. Still, nothing could replace the personal touch of a phone call, card or letter.

As the oldest of five, she took care of her siblings as well as her five children. She was a great provider and made sure that no one would want for anything. 

She was our matriarch and she kept her word.  She would often say “your word is your bond.”

Martha was very private about her health, although she fought a lengthy illness. She never wanted anyone to worry about her. She was our beloved who embodied strength and determination. Regardless of the difficulty or challenge of the situation, she never gave up and would always bounce back. She fought the good fight. 

She was preceded in death by two of her siblings,  Ethel L. Garnes and John Henry Dortch; her Daughter Lavern Q. Sanders;  three brother-in-laws Samuel Mason, Henry Stuckey and Herbert Garnes; one son in law Alvin Rayfield, and her godson William Martin.

She leaves to cherish her memories, her two sisters:  Beaulah Mason and Georgia Stuckey; Children: Maynard Dortch, Ray (Sonia) Williams , Karen “Lady” Rayfield, Angela Carrington and Trulestine Jefferson, a daughter and niece; Grandchildren: Nicole “Nicky”Sanders, Martha “Monique” Pia , Joya Dortch, Jason Dortch, Amber Dortch, Aarica Carrington, Jessica Dortch and Sydney Carrington; Great-grandchildren: Cierra Taylor, Michael “Mikey” Taylor, Joshua Taylor and Jason “Deuce” Dortch II; Godson Maximillion “Moses,” and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. We also acknowledged all of her special friends at Reisterstown Meadows: Mr. North, Martha thought of you as a brother and confidant.