Sister Martin Joseph Jones, SSMN, longtime educator, librarian, archivist, dies at 89

By Jenara Kocks Burgess

Correspondent

May 1, 2013

Sr.-Martin-Joseph-WEB.jpgSister Martin Joseph Jones, SSMN, the first librarian at the University of Dallas and first archivist at Buffalo State (a campus of the State University of New York, or SUNY), who was known for her outgoing personality, died at her residence Monday, April 29.

“She was more than just a librarian; she was a real asset for the campus as a whole,” said Robert Dupree, who worked with Sr. Martin when he was a UD student and is now a tenured professor there as well as the director of Library and University Research.

A Rosary vigil service for Sr. Martin was offered Thursday, May 2, at Our Lady of Victory Chapel in Fort Worth. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Friday, May 3, at Our Lady of Victory Center.

Sr. Martin was born in Kansas City, Missouri, Oct. 19, 1923. She grew up in Houston where she graduated from John H. Reagan High School in 1941. In 1943 she entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur and professed perpetual vows in 1952. She earned a Bachelor of Arts at Our Lady of Victory College, and in 1956, she earned a master’s in library science from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“Throughout her professional career, Sr. Martin always remained herself, the outgoing, enthusiastic, and caring person who shared 70 years of religious life with us,” said the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, in a prepared obituary. “She will be remembered for her indomitable joy of living.”

A gifted educator, Sr. Martin taught various grades for 10 years at St. Ignatius Academy and Our Lady of Victory School in Fort Worth, Our Lady of Good Counsel and St. James Schools in Dallas, and at the Shrine of the True Cross School in Dickinson, near Houston. She gave up teaching in 1953 when asked to earn a degree in library science to prepare her to become the first librarian at the fledgling University of Dallas.

Dupree said he spent many hours talking with her, and many of the UD students also enjoyed talking to her about their lives.

“She was almost like a student advisor in an unofficial capacity. She played a special role that no one could fill, so she left a big gap when she left,” he said.

Dupree said working in the library as a student with Sr. Martin during her last two years at UD gave him insight on how a library worked which he believes helped him when he became director of Library and University Research at UD in 1998.

“I feel honored filling her position 38 years after she left,” he said.

After six years at UD, Sr. Martin created the library for newly-founded Nolan Catholic High School in 1961 where she remained for seven years.

Sr. Martin moved to the Sisters’ Eastern Province in 1968, and, after a year teaching at Mount St. Mary in Kenmore, New York, she resumed her career as a librarian, working at what is now known as Buffalo State, SUNY from 1969-1995. Known as the “nun on campus” for wearing her veil, she began as a reference librarian, then as assistant in the Periodical Department, and for 20 years, served as head of archives, Special Collections.

Maryruth Glogowski, associate vice president for the library and instructional technology at SUNY worked with Sr. Martin from 1975-1995, and said her sunny, positive personality, and intelligence and genuine love of people helped her build relationships that aided in successfully building collections and donors.

“She built our archives from nothing,” Glogowski said. “She was so organized and had a wonderful personality. She was good at persuading people.”

In the April 23, 1996 article “The ‘nun on campus’ retires from Butler Library” in the Buffalo State student newspaper, The Record, Sr. Martin said she couldn’t cook, or sew, or organize, but she could picture a room completed and her work took her by surprise.

“I don’t look for these things,” she said. “God just opens the door and pushes me through. I like to shuffle papers someone once said. I am a paper person, and I am a people person.”

The SUNY College public relations department sent an e-mail to the university in early May saying, “the Buffalo State community is saddened by her (Sr. Martin’s) death,” and noted her many contributions.

In 1986, Sr. Martin extended her career, organizing archives for the Sisters’ Generalate in Namur, Belgium, and for the Buffalo Diocese. She also served as provincial archivist for both American provinces, and as a consultant to various dioceses and churches. In 1985, the Buffalo chapter of Hadassah, a Jewish women’s organization, honored her with the Myrtle Wreath Award, “In recognition of her ecumenical vision, archival skills, and pioneering efforts on behalf of the Selig Adler archives at the Butler Library.”

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur at Our Lady of Victory, 909 W. Shaw St., Fort Worth, TX 76110.

Sister Martin Joseph Jones, SSMN, the first librarian at the University of Dallas and first archivist at Buffalo State (a campus of the State University of New York, or SUNY), who was known for her outgoing personality, died at her residence Monday, April 29.

Published (until 1/14/2115)
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