Tuesday, December 10, 2013
CAPE ELIZABETH – Sally F. Martin, a retired high school English teacher who wrote a controversial local best seller, "The Shape of Dark," died Tuesday. She was 73.
Sally F. Martin
Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.
Mrs. Martin taught English at Cape Elizabeth High School for 22 years. She was remembered Thursday as a dedicated and influential teacher, who made a difference in many of her students' lives.
Mrs. Martin got to know her students well through reading their journals and other writing assignments.
One of her former students, Jenny Anastasoff, said journaling for Mrs. Martin's class helped her through a difficult time in high school.
"We disclosed all kinds of personal stuff. I was able to be very vulnerable with her privately," Anastasoff said. "She was so supportive. She would write in the margins of your journal. The feedback I got from her was very encouraging. She was a really great teacher."
Mrs. Martin retired in 2000. This week, dozens of her former students and colleagues turned to Facebook to post their thoughts and memories of her.
Tonya Shevenell wrote: "She was a bright light, kind but firm, and so good at keeping things interesting in the classroom. So saddened by the news."
John Kazenski wrote: "She was a great influence on me at Cape."
She was a loving wife to her husband, Allan Martin, for 51 years. The Martins raised three children: Tom and Bob Martin, both of Falmouth; and Katie McCoy, of Cape Elizabeth.
On Thursday, her husband reminisced about the day they met in a math class at Newton High School in Massachusetts.
She was a cheerleader. He was captain of the basketball and baseball teams. They dated through high school and college before getting married on Sept. 9, 1961.
He talked about their life together -- raising their children and traveling. He said they visited Bermuda 32 times.
"It was a great life," he said. "I'll miss her smile and how loving she was. She was the most loving person. She was always so happy and smiling and fun to be with."
Her son Tom Martin talked about growing up in Cape Elizabeth. He said their friends were always welcome at their home. He said his mother was supportive and encouraged him to pursue his dreams. He mentioned the day he dropped out of the University of Maine at Orono.
"Even though education was important to her, she never gave me a hard time," he said. "She was supportive. She was so proud of her kids. She was a sweetheart."
In 2003, Mrs. Martin self-published her novel, "The Shape of Dark," which reflects a darker side of living in Cape Elizabeth.
The story focuses on the life of Kate Hammond, a high school English teacher who flees from Georgia to Cape Mariana, Maine, with her young daughter, hoping to put her terrible past behind her.
The novel's similarities to Cape Elizabeth are everywhere. Crescent Beach is "Half Moon Beach." The Inn by the Sea is the "Half Moon Inn." The Good Table Restaurant is "Rossoni's."
When the book was released, some parents raised concerns that Mrs. Martin had used material from the students' journals in her novel. But she always said that wasn't the case.
Her husband said the novel appeared on the best-seller list at Borders for 16 weeks.
He said his wife was immensely proud of the novel.
"If one reads it, they can find themselves in it," her husband said. "It's a page turner."
Mrs. Martin's full obituary will appear in Tuesday's newspaper.
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: