Martha Agner, author, historian, community activist, dies at 82
By Kathy Chaffin
A beloved Salisbury author, historian, genealogist and community activist died Monday at Rowan Regional Medical Center after a year of declining health.
For her seven children, 23 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, Martha Withers Agner will be remembered most as a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“We were very lucky to have had her for our mother,” said daughter Georgellen “Georgi” Agner Goss. “She was the most positive person I have ever known, and she tried to keep all of us thinking in the same vein.”
Martha Agner, 82, was the widow of Dr. Roy A. Agner Jr., an internist who practiced medicine in Salisbury for 51 years. They shared a love of medicine. After graduating from Spencer High School in 1942, Martha attended the Protestant Episcopal Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia and worked as an operating room nurse at Duke Hospital.
Several of their family members followed in the medical profession.
Goss said her parents had a loving marriage. “They also demonstrated what it means to love their neighbors,” she said. “Our parents didn’t complain or criticize other people. That was a wonderful gift to us.”
Martha Agner wrote a dozen books, some for children and some for adults, and several about her family.
Two of her children’s books were titled, “Henry Agner Comes to America” and “Henry Agner Comes to North Carolina: Another embellished story of an Agner family.”
Her last book, “April 2, 1867,” published just last month, is about a post-Civil War murder trial in which the defendant was represented by then Gov. Zebulon Vance.
Martha Agner was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church and had served as chairwoman of the N.C. Lutheran Synod Historical Committee.
Georgi Goss said her mother was an excellent listener who genuinely enjoyed people and offered support for others’ ideas.
“Her sense of humor and keen wit made her a joy to be around,” she said. “She loved puns and made all of us smile.
“When I think of her, I always picture her with a friendly smile and a warm, welcoming expression that said, ‘I’m glad to see you.’ I think that is how she would like to be remembered by others, also.”