Remembering Linda St. Martin

Last Friday, May 23rd, Louie Miller of the Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club emailed a number of friends and colleagues: "Sharing the tragic news that Linda St. Martin passed away at 9:30 this morning from complications due to chemotherapy. I would appreciate everyone taking a moment to reflect on Linda in honor of her body of work, passion, and commitment in service to the Sierra Club and the Gulf Community as a whole."

He continued, "This is indeed a very sad day for all who knew and loved Linda, a passionate, tireless crusader for the environment and justice for those who had no voice. I have been blessed to have had Linda as a friend and campaigner through the plethora of issues we engaged in over the years. May she enjoy the divine rewards so rightfully bestowed upon her for a life well lived."

Here are some of the responses that followed (reprinted here with permission). Linda's obituary and additional comments from family and friends are available via the Sun Herald and the Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club's website. Image courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Never let injustice shut you up. When you see injustice you must stand up. It’s going to hurt sometimes. It’s going to cost you something. But you can never, never allow injustice in your presence and sit silently by and let it happen. You cannot do that.” 

                                                    –  Linda St. Martin, Stories from the Gulf

Linda was an exceptional human being who lived her life in service to others. Regardless of whether it was a friend or a complete stranger, she treated everyone equally with love, compassion, and offered the best of herself while not asking or expecting anything in return. She was and will forever be a hero to many, myself included, and terribly missed.  This quote of Linda’s encapsulates how she approached her life and serves as a reminder that we have a responsibility to continue her legacy by taking care of one another, our community, our Gulf, and ourselves.   – Jill Mastrototaro, National Wildlife Federation

A creative and inspiring warrior for inclusion, justice and kindness, Linda St. Martin was a heroic Mississippian and real American patriot. From homeless persons and gas company ratepayers, to recovering addicts and long departed black Civil War vets, Linda modeled and demanded awareness, fairness and dignity for the overlooked and stepped on. I salute her memory and shall long honor the legacy of her many generous, principled and courageous deeds to assist, empower and heal our community's wounded and disenfranchised members. Rest well dear Sister, Soldier, Healer and Friend.
— Derrick Evans, Turkey Creek Community Initiatives, Bridge The Gulf, Gulf Coast Fund

This is very sad news for all who knew Linda. Her fighting spirit and willingness to stand up to authority were qualities that distinguished her and made her an asset to the struggle for justice.  – John Jopling, Mississippi Center for Justice

Photo: Linda St. Martin gets on the bus. Photo by Jordan Macha.

I remember sitting in the Atlanta airport with Linda. We had been to a meeting with a bunch of high powered execs, including the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, about their company's less than stellar behavior, and Linda as usual had been uncowed and right at home in the corridors of power. There was a young African-American woman sitting there next to us in the airport, waiting for the plane, and Linda just turned to her and said, ‘Why are you going to Gulfport?’ Which of course is a major breach of unspoken airport and other public transportation etiquette.  But Linda just had that ingenuousness in everything she did, and this gal turned around told Linda her whole story (which was not a sad one, she was in school at Millsaps and very accomplished).  By the time we got to Gulfport I was fairly sure Linda was going to go file adoption papers the next day. Or maybe the young woman was, so she could get adopted by Linda.  Linda just had that strength and lack of guile that drew people in.  – Robert Wiygul, Waltzer Wiygul & Garside

Here's a video of Linda speaking truth to power in Mississippi in the wake of the BP oil disaster. We've lost a passionate, effective and experienced advocate for the Gulf Coast and the environment. – Scott Elkins, Sierra Club

Linda was a true heroine and friend, and her loss will be deeply felt.  — Glen Hooks, Sierra Club

Mississippi has lost a great person who worked for Environmental Justice for all people of the Mississippi Coast and beyond. — Darryl Malek-Wiley, Sierra Club

Linda came to us with organizing skills and a love for people. She worked tirelessly for a better environment and a better world. She enhanced our meetings, met those we didn't know and made them feel a part of our group. To say she will be sorely missed is an understatement. More appropriate is to wonder how we will manage at all without her. She has gone to a better place and left us behind in a better place for having fought so hard to make it better. — Steve Shepard, Sierra Club

When research and reason had failed to blunt some twisted project, she had the courage and wit to do the next necessary thing: get right in the Governor's face and laugh at the absurdity of his fool schemes. – David Underhill, Mobile Bay Sierra Club

 My contribution about her is: heart of war.  – Reilly Morse, Mississippi Center for Justice

Linda St. Martin was a social justice warrior who stood strong for economic and environmental justice and human rights.  Those of us who were fortunate to work with her were buoyed  by her strength, courage  and optimism to correct injustice.  When I would call, as soon as she heard my voice she would say, “What can I  do you for?”  Linda, we will miss your service to our community and your clarion call for justice. “GET ON THE BUS!,” the bus for social justice.  – Roberta Avila, STEPS Coalition

On the 6th month anniversary of the BP oil disaster, after a press conference at the Lighthouse Fishing Dock in Biloxi ("The Oil Is Still Here and So Are We!"), Linda St. Martin invited me back to lunch at Harmony Hall in Gulfport. I don't remember how or why, but suddenly we were filming a cooking show, while Raleigh Hoke (Mississippi organizer with the Gulf Restoration Network at the time), looked on, waiting patiently for his grilled cheese sandwich, sauteed mirlitons, and satsuma lemonade. I can only imagine what a loss this is for Linda's family, friends, and colleagues. I will remember her generosity, warmth, wit, and fighting spirit. – Ada McMahon, Bridge The Gulf

I once had a friend tell me that he thought it was extremely RARE to talk to someone over the age of 40, who was passionate about anything. His thought was, it was as if life itself, had forced people into conformity, and they just gave up feeling strongly about anything. Well, I wished I could have introduced him to Linda St Martin!!  Remarkable woman, and I was fortunate to have met her. She was just one person who made a very big difference in the world. – Jen Pletcher

Thoughts of Linda Saint Martin

Tender of heart,
Loving in spirit,
Faithful in conviction,
Fearless in battle.

Conscience for justice,
Desire for peace,
Will of steel,
Courage to stand.

Defender of right,
Advocate of creation,
Warrior for good,
Speaker of truth.

Mother, friend to all, child of. God.

– Stan Flint 

A Poem For Linda

The Ospreys wail,
"Our champion fell'"
The porpoise sighs, 
"Who will rise?" 
The turtles cry
Their sad good bye. 

Yet she remains,
In our heart's refrains,
And we will stand,
Across the sand,
We will rise,
So dry your eyes.

As she calls on us
To fight again,
To make a fuss,
To end the pain,
There is work,
To be done, 
From sun to sun.
So carry on,
A majority of one.

Rest well sweet warrior. 

– Stan Flint


"There are 4 things --- YOU CANNOT RECOVER"  

The Stone......................after the throw!
The Word..........................after it's said!
The Occasion.................. after the loss!
The Time........................... after it's gone!  

Linda is gone but she will never be forgotten for her courage and conviction of what she believed in and what she stood for. She stood toe to toe against the Southern Company and Mississippi Power Co. and Former Gov. Haley Barbour. Linda had a personality that God gave her that no one else has in the whole wide world. Helping the middle class and poor people was Linda's daily goal!!  A friend of the people!!   – Brown Miller

Please share your own remembrances of Linda St. Martin in the comments below, or at the Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club's website.