Thelma Martin

April 26, 1942 - April 1, 2020


April 6, 2020 - 9:26 AM

Thelma Martin

Thelma Mae (Thornburg) Martin, age 77 of Cherokee, passed away at 2:23 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

Thelma was born in Columbus, on April 26, 1942, to Freddie George Thornburg and Mabel Walker Thornburg. She grew up in Scammon, and graduated from Columbus High School with the Class of 1960. 

She spent many years in Iola, with her husband John Zahm, Jr. (deceased), where they raised their four children. She was a member of United Methodist Church, Jaycee Janes, and Order of the Eastern Star. She moved back to Southeast Kansas about 30 years ago and settled in Cherokee with her partner, Lauren “Pepper” Martin. She worked as a dental assistant for many years, retiring from Accent Dental in Pittsburg. She enjoyed time in her garden tending to her flowers, as well as flower arranging, sewing, and reading. Above all, she enjoyed being with family. Thelma was a beautiful woman, both inside and out, with a youthful  presence. She was known as strong, loving, and kind. She had a positive outlook on life and demonstrated her ability to care for those she loved.

She is survived by her partner, Pepper Martin of Cherokee; one  son, John Zahm III of Iola; three daughters, Brenda Zahm (partner, Matthew Erwin), Julie Smith (husband, Glenn), both of Russell, and Linda Stratton (partner, Tony Woo) of Las Vegas; two stepsons, Russ (wife Rhonda) of Houston, Texas, and Robert Martin (wife Melissa) of Columbus: two stepdaughters Susan Hager (husband Jeff) of Grandby, Mo., and Karen Holton (husband Chris) of Olathe; three sisters Patricia Stice of Oswego, Wanda Mercer (husband, Ronald) of Galena, and Deborah Turner (husband, Gary) of Leadville, Colo.; seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, 16 step-grandchildren, and 15 step-great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Mabel Thornburg; and an infant sister, Cuba Jean Thornburg. 

Thelma has been entrusted to Derfelt Funeral Home of Columbus for cremation. Services will be announced at a later date. Thelma’s final resting  place will be Park Cemetery in Columbus. Online condolences may be expressed at


May 27, 2022
May 26, 2022
May 5, 2022
April 12, 2022