Martha Daniel Newell, died peacefully on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1921, she had celebrated her 95th birthday on August 26 with family and friends. She enjoyed excellent health for all of her life and was active and involved with others until the end.
Martha was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Zack Fort Daniel; and the sister of Zack F. Daniel Jr. She was a graduate of Georgia College and State University, where in her senior year she was president of the student body and a member of “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.” She was named by “Look” Magazine as one of the most beautiful college girls of 1942.
She was the widow of Samuel W. Newell, a much beloved Presbyterian minister first in Davidson, N.C. and then, in Richmond. Martha and Sam’s marriage was a true partnership and they shared many interests: music, books, sailing and travel. They were never happier than when they were at Drum Point, their river place on the Corrotoman River.
She is survived by three daughters and “the three best sons-in-law in Richmond”: Pattie and Mason Williams M.D., Scottie and Tom Slater, and Meg and John Gottwald; nine grandchildren, Carrington Williams III, Taylor Williams, Mary Mason Williams Foukal, Molly Brent Revere, Mason Brent, Sam Gottwald, James Gottwald, Chase Gottwald and Addie Gottwald; and 11 great-grandchildren, Maddie Williams, Grace Williams, Faye Williams, Eloise Revere, Teddy Revere, Mary McKee Williams, Kate Williams, Sam Williams, Jack Brent, Carrington Foukal and Elisabeth Gottwald.
Martha considered herself “just a piano player,” and not a musician. She had the rare talent of playing by ear any melody she heard, and she spent a lifetime filling her home with music and giving enjoyment to a host of people at fashion shows, receptions and holiday events.
Dismissed by her piano teacher when she was seven years old, she believed even at that age that she could make her music sound better than original compositions of the great composers (and she could!). Two of her grandsons, Mason Brent and Carrington Williams, made recordings of her personalized and improvised music, which are still enjoyed by her family and friends.
She was a prolific letter writer, penned with her beautiful and distinctive handwriting. She stayed in touch with friends through her newsy and entertaining letters. Martha was a member of Second Presbyterian Church, The Tuckahoe Woman’s Club and The Country Club of Virginia.
The highlight of her last few years was designing and sewing many beautiful outfits for her great-granddaughters’ American Girl dolls. She had two exhibitions at Cedarfield showcasing these couture creations. The Richmond Times-Dispatch did a feature article on this interesting hobby in 2015.
She often talked of what a blessed life she had lived and quoted from the Book of Proverbs: “my lines have fallen in pleasant places.”
She had a beautiful smile and a radiant, positive attitude, sharing joy, encouraging her family, and expressing appreciation wherever she went and making her world a better place for everyone.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 24, at 11 a.m., at River Road Presbyterian Church. A graveside service will follow at a later date at Christ Church in Irvington, where she will join her beloved husband.
Memorial contributions may be made to Second Presbyterian Church, 5 North 5th St., Richmond, Virginia 23219 or to Union Presbyterian Seminary, 3407 Brook Rd., Richmond, Virginia 23227.