Martha McDonald McLeod died Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, at her ancestral homeplace, 383 Sandy Branch Lane, Aberdeen.

She was born Nov. 16, 1923, in Red Springs, to John Daniel McLeod Sr. and Sarah Cranor McKay McLeod. She was predeceased by brothers John D MacLeod Jr. and Neill Alexander “Sandy” McLeod; her sister Sarah Cranor McLeod Wilson; and her nephew Paul Wesley Wilson. She is survived by nieces and nephews to the third generation.

She graduated as valedictorian of Aberdeen High School class of 1940, from Montreat College in 1942, and from Flora McDonald College (now St. Andrews University) in 1944. She received an MA in Christian education from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond in 1953. She was a lifelong learner and took Hebrew and Greek in training to become a commissioned lay minister in the 1980s.

She taught high school in Wagram, (English and foreign languages), Lees Junior College in Jackson, Ky. (English and Bible). She opened a kindergarten at Bethesda Presbyterian Church in the 1950s, which she ran until the public school system initiated its kindergarten program.

For more than 50 years, she served in many roles at Bethesda Presbyterian Church, including administrative assistant, Christian educator, circle Bible study leader, Sunday School teacher, youth group leader, choir member and counselor at Camp Monroe. She was chair of the Homecoming Committee for many years and was instrumental in setting up the Bethesda Heritage room.

She organized an internship program enabling seminarians from Scotland to continue their training at Bethesda. She was the first woman ordained as Elder at Bethesda Church, filling a number of terms beginning in the 1960s.

In her retirement she worked as a commissioned lay minister in Coastal Carolina Presbytery. She was on the board of directors at Barium Springs Home for Children. She was a member and officer of the NC Presbyterian Historical Society and the NC Scottish Heritage Society, receiving the Flora McDonald Award for her work on the preservation of the history of Scottish immigrants to North Carolina. She assisted in the collection of data for a biography of Flora McDonald and was profiled in the book “Scottish Exodus.”

She was a prolific author of poetry and a member of the North Carolina Poetry Society, receiving awards for her work in the categories of history and children’s literature.

Hours of visitation are from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at Boles Funeral Home, in Southern Pines. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at Bethesda Presbyterian Church.

Memorial donations can be made to the Bethesda Presbyterian Church, 1002 North Sandhills Blvd., Aberdeen, NC 28315. Online condolences may be made at

Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines is serving the family.