Martha Mae Garaway Tibbs, affectionately known as 'Topsy' was born on December 5, 1935 in Taft, Oklahoma to Nesby McKinney and Mattie Bell Stewart Caraway. She was the 5th child of the eleven born into this union.
She attended grades K thru 12 at the Moten School in Taft, OK.
At the age of 18 she married Jim Frank Burnett, Sr. in Taft, OK and moved to Topeka, Kansas in 1953. Four children were born into this union. They later divorced.
Martha accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior at an early age and was baptized into the Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church, in Taft, OK under the leadership of Pastor H. Herrington. There she was a faithful servant of Christ.
Martha always kept her love for her home town of Taft. She made frequent visits to see old friends, worship with St. Paul Church family and tend to her parents graves on the Memorial Day weekend.
Upon moving to Topeka she united with the True Vine Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Lewis Green. There she continued to be faithful and served on the Adult Usher Board. She later moved her membership to the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church.
Martha began her working career at the Menninger Foundation working in the dietary department. After finishing training at Kaw Valley Vo-Tech she went to work at the Boy' s Industrial School now known as YCAT. There she was the dining room supervisor. She was also employed at the United Methodist Home. After 16 years she was forced to retire from YCAT due to her health issues.
Whenever she could sneak some free time she loved to travel. Martha was a lover of good gospel music. She was a regular supporter of the Quartet Union Convention and the Community Choir.
Family meant the world to her. She loved her children and grandchildren with great passion. Being one of the matriarchs of the Caraway family, she helped to start the Hooper-Caraway Family Reunion. Martha traveled to all the family reunions until her health would no longer allow her to.
In 1965 she married the love of her life, Willie Tibbs, Sr. 5 children were born into this union. Martha and Willie had been married 38 years before his death.
On Saturday May 6, 2017 at the blessed age of 81, God saw fit to call Martha from labor to reward while she was surrounded by her family that loved and cared for her through it all.
She will truly be missed. We loved her but God loved her best.
Martha was preceded in death by her husband, Willie C. Tibbs, Sr. and 2 sons — Jeffrey Leroy and Jim Burnett, Jr. 1 daughter — Janetta Tibbs. 1 granddaughter — Treva Jones. 1 grandson — Tracey Tibbs and 2 great-grandchildren.
Her parents, 4 brothers — Henry Lee, Nesby McKinney, Charles Walter and Jake Henry. 3 sisters — Maybell Caraway, Litha Haynes and Ethel Parker.
She leaves to forever cherish her memory, 1 son — Willie C. Tibbs, Jr. 2 stepsons — Calvin Tibbs (Linda) and Pastor James Tibbs Jackson of NlMthechurchonwheels (Pam) of KCMO. 5 daughters —Jennifer Burnett, Joyce Williams (Dexter) of Live Oak, FL, Jacqueline White (Will), Angelia McDowell (Larry), and Juanita Tibbs Howell. 1 stepdaughter — Cindy Hand. 2 adopted children — LaRonda Bey and Steven Henry. Her siblings — 1 brother — Pastor McCoy Caraway, Sr. (Lucinda). 2 sisters — Parthenia Amos and Anna Olfeso.
She was also blessed with 52 grandchildren, 120 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren.
Along with a grand host of nieces, nephews, loved ones and friends.
A funeral service will be 11:00 a.m., Monday, May 15, 2017 at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church, 307 SE Tefft , Topeka, Kansas. Interment will follow at Penwell-Gabel Cemetery, Topeka, Kansas. The family will receive friends from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., Sunday at Penwell-Gabel Mid-Town Chapel, 1321 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, Kansas.
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