Mary Lou Martin and her husband of 59 years, Curry Martin Jr., directed the vocal and instrumental music programs of the Warren schools for almost 30 years. In addition, Mary Lou served as the organist for the First United Methodist Church of Warren for over 20 years.
Mary Lou Poteete attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now called UCA) in Conway, where she met her future husband. They played together in a college dance band, the "Top Hatters." During her nearly three-decade teaching career, Mrs. Martin led the Warren choirs to numerous awards and honors. Her legendary attention to detail in directing the madrigal, girls ensemble and mixed chorus will always be fondly remembered. A member of the Arkansas Choral Directors' Association, Mrs. Martin was famous for her ability to play an accompaniment perfectly at first sight, a talent that was used for hundreds of Warren band and choir students at regional and state competitions. In her spare time, Mrs. Martin also coached the majorettes, designing and perfecting their routines. She also helped put out the fire batons and jump rope at Homecoming halftimes.
Mary Lou Martin's cooking talents were also legendary. Her chili dogs, from the football concession, sold so well that at one point "Thousands and Thousands Sold" went up on a sign at the stand. Mrs. Martin's trademark dill pickles were also very popular across the state and throughout the Warren community. Mary Lou taught private piano lessons for many years, and she was in demand for her sewing, monogramming, and alterations work.
Mrs. Martin filled her retirement years with quilting, watching grandchildren grow up, and tending her garlic and dill plants.
Mary Lou Martin Memories by son, Marty
Consistent top ratings for girls chorus, mixed choir (with Curry Martin), girls ensemble, and madrigal.
Strict requirement for length of robes in performance shoes.
Required individual parts passed off for contest music.
Mixed chorus named Best in Class for AA one year.
Taught girls parts and accompanied the mixed choir in performances of Haydn masses, The Creation by Haydn, The Seven Last Words of Christ, The Messiah and Elijah oratorios by Handel. The Creation sung in combination with Charles and Ann Rye, from Crossett.
Absolutely no chewing gum on stage (or in class).
Arranged (pirated) new pop songs for girls ensemble—one example When You Walk Through A Storm.
Played pipe organ for Warren United Methodist Church for 50 years.
Taught piano lessons in the home.
Accompanied hundreds of Grade I instrumental solos at Region and State Solo-Ensemble festivals.
In later years, taught Beginner Flute for Curry Martin.
Famous for her chili, spaghetti, fish dinners, and desserts—especially chocolate chip cookies. Twenty-four dozen recipes on request (LOL).
Enjoyed correcting Curry in rehearsal “Curry!! That entrance was two measures early!!”
Mozart Requiem, in combination with Crossett High Choir
Performed "The Heavens are Telling" chorus at state festival
The Warren Madrigal talked her into ordering some Swingle Singers arrangements. After half an hour of fumbling and stumbling, we gave the music back to her. Lesson learned. We weren't THAT good!!
Tributes to Mary Lou Martin
She played for my daughter Holly's wedding. Being in the band for 8 years, being one of her Piano students, being in the glee club, and being a majorette, she was my other mom, my idol, and forever friend. Love that amazing woman!
What an inspiring lady. They brought much talent and joy to Warren.
She was one lady who had endless talents and was willing to share them with others! So many of us profited from her talents and her experience. Thanks to all of the Martin children for sharing their parents with all of us.
Kay Wood Sharp
I was blessed to be in Martin choirs and ensembles when I moved to Warren in the middle of 7th grade. One of the saddest parts of moving right before my junior year was leaving the Martin nest!!! I had learned so much and made All-State Choir and had just made Madrigal Ensemble. One of my great joys later in life was running into MLM at an All-State event when I was recruiting students for OBU. She was a huge blessing in my life!
Janet Crouch Wentz
One of the most talented and hard working people I have ever known. Nancy and I took piano from her. When she found out we raised tomatoes she told daddy she didn’t want to be paid in money, she wanted tomatoes. She would drive up in her station wagon. She had a blanket laid down in the back. She would dump baskets and baskets of culls onto that blanket and in two days she would be back and clean us out again!! I don’t know how she did it because she was canning those famous pickles too. Everything she made was delicious. I also remember her getting a sewing machine that monogrammed. We all had initials on something. She was a dynamite choral director. What a role model!!
Jo Ann Castleberry Pyle
Mrs. Martin is the VERY reason I judge EVERY hemline of any choir line!! Right is right, thought! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures and memories of her. I will remember her best from the 80’s era.
Becky Womble Nethercutt
She is one of the reasons I wanted to do my “practice teaching,” as we called it in those days, at Warren when I was completing my bachelors at UAM. I knew I was going to be working choirs as well as bands in my career. Where else could I go to learn both? I jumped into the final stages of the Vivaldi “Gloria.” Was great fun. Spring semester 1971.
Mrs. Martin accompanied me on numerous cornet solos at district and state festivals over my high school years. She always prepared us so that we would be at our best. She was so much more than an accompanist.
She played for my wedding. She and Mr. Martin were such great gifts to all of us. I am so thankful for the love of music and discipline they gave to me–and to all of us.
Cindy Marsh Smith
She played for our wedding nearly 50 years ago.
Judy Thornton Wynne
Mary Lou taught me to play the flute in Beginner Band class in 1986. I was fortunate enough to play the flute many times over the years with her and Curry and the choir at FUMC in Warren. Good times!
Class of ‘86 - Mrs. Martin did not play with that gum rule. She is one of the top 5 most influential people in my life. Loved her so much!
She played for my daughter Holly's wedding. Being in the band for 8 years, being one of her piano students, being in the glee club, and being a majorette, she was my other mom, my idol, and forever friend. Love that amazing woman!
She was the best, my most influential teacher by far!
Lou Anne Scroggins Emrich
Mark Langley, Shelley Martin (daughter), and Bennie Carol Wade