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Anita L. Martin

June 25, 1937- January 06, 2021

Anita L. Martin, 83, of Carlisle, joined our Heavenly Father on January 6, 2021, with her children and husband by her side, at UPMC West Shore Hospital. She is likely preparing our home in Heaven. A graveside burial will be held this week for immediate family. A celebration of life is being planned tentatively for Anita's birthday, on June 25th, open for all extended family and friends.

She is survived by her loving husband of 60 years, James L. Martin of Carlisle; five children: Denise (husband Mike) Eschenmann, Debbie (husband Doug) Harris-Heishman, Donna (husband Ralph) Godfrey, David Martin, and Doug (wife Lara) Martin, all of Carlisle; seventeen grandchildren, Corey (wife Julie), Colin, Cara, Brett, Eric, Megan, Ryan, Drew, Shane, Nick, Chris, Brian, Logan, Trent, Julia, Abby, and Evan; and three great-grandchildren: Cole, Jovie, and Chloe. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by one granddaughter, Christi Fraker; a son-in-law, Dave Harris; and two siblings, Louis and Joanne Ripa.

She truly enjoyed her work and developed great friendships with her co-workers across all of her jobs: Prudential (New Jersey), Blue Shield, Philadelphia National Bank (PNB), Automatic Data Processing (ADP), and Sprint. In retirement, she continued to work part-time as a hostess at Cracker Barrel until age 82, where her friends and family from near and far would stop to visit her. When she stopped working, she began volunteering at Project Share and continued to be an invaluable member of our community.

She was born on June 25th, 1937, in Orange, NJ, to the late Nicholas and Anna (Battallia) Ripa. In the words of her mother-in-law, Louise Martin, "That girl can do anything." Many knew Anita as an artist, but it was actually her athletic ability on display at a skating rink in Newark, New Jersey, that first attracted the man who would become her future bowling teammate, pinochle partner, and, incidentally, the love of her life, Jim. He followed her to work at Prudential, where she showcased her technical skills as a key puncher (which later translated to texting and playing Words With Friends with her grandkids.) Always the procrastinator, Jim finally swept her up to start a new life together in Carlisle, PA, in pursuit of what Anita saw as God's calling in her life - building a family.

Over the next 60 years, Anita became a wife, a mom to five, a grandma to eighteen, a great-grandma to three (so far), a friend to nearly all who crossed her path, and a dog mom to eight. The newest puppy addition to the family, Prince James Martin Ripa of Belvedere, lives with his namesake in the house that has hosted over these years every family holiday, every grandkid sick day, daily tea parties (real and pretend), and a daily gathering place for family.

Anita baked birthday cakes for every birthday party, played beautician in every game of dress-up, and was the seamstress of every Halloween costume. She could have been a professional artist, but she refused to charge for her work. All her artwork was created out of love for family and friends, and all the money she made from her cakes or part-time work went toward Christmas presents or gifts for others. If there was an ability of hers that surpassed her artistic ability, it was her unmatched talent for shopping. She started getting deals the day after Christmas and shopped all year for each family member, tracking who got what until everybody had a pile taller than Anita. Everything she did was in selfless service to the people she loved. If you've ever had a laughing fit while watching someone have a laughing fit and neither one of you can remember why you were laughing in the first place, that's what it felt like to be with Anita. Knowing from a young age that she would dedicate her life to building a family allowed her to enjoy each moment of life with her family knowing that she was living out God's purpose for her.

All five of Anita's kids and one grandkid (so far) chose to locate their own families within one mile of the house where it all started. Here, and despite her rough year, she left behind a roomful of wrapped Christmas presents in neatly organized piles, one for each member of the family she started 60 years ago. For her, a year of work was worth ten minutes of joy for her grandkids. This year, each will take a step back to recognize her gift of good advice that has inspired them to build their own family, and to admire her final work of art - the Good News that is communicated through a life lived in faith. She will be greatly missed, but be assured she will watch from heaven as her family grows beyond anything she could have foreseen, a testament to the contribution one faithful servant can make to God's broader masterpiece. To that end, heaven couldn't have added a more accomplished artist.

Anita's three year old great-granddaughter was overheard saying, "Jesus, please give my grandma a hug for us." We all share that sentiment.

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." -Luke 23:43

More information on Anita's Celebration of Life will be coming, but we are hoping to do it around her birthday on June 25th. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in memory of Anita to Four Diamonds or St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

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This article originally ran on Content Exchange

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