Cover photo for Martha Likins's Obituary
1931 Martha 2022

Martha Likins

November 29, 1931 — May 27, 2022


Martha Ann Grant Likins passed away on Friday, May 27, 2022, at age 90, at Richland Health Care Center in Nashville, TN from heart failure.

Mrs. Likins was born in Eminence, KY on November 29, 1931, to Rev. Dr. Charles Grant and Marianna Edwards.   Her birth marked the commencement of her long association with the United Methodist Church in various roles.

After her father accepted the pastor’s role at Crescent Hill UMC in Louisville, she met William Henry Likins at a youth meeting.  She describes this as “love at first sight”.  Their love was deepened by a trip to the National Methodist Youth Conference in Cleveland in 1947.

After Bill graduated from Louisville Male High School in 1948, he enrolled at Asbury College in Kentucky.  Martha joined him after she graduated from Atherton High School in 1949.  After a few years, her parents encouraged her to transfer to DePauw University in Greenville, Indiana.

Being apart was hard to bear, and when Bill finished at Asbury, he moved to Emory University Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA as a master’s degree theology student.  They declared their intention to marry during this time.  They were married in June 1952 with Rev. Dr. Charles Grant performing the evening, candlelight ceremony just one week before he moved to Memphis to accept pastorship of Christ Methodist Church.

Martha transferred to Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and graduated with a A.B. in 1954.  Bill graduated from the Candler School of Theology in 1954 one day after Martha’s graduation.

Their first child, Jeanne Marie, was born while they were both students.  During and after graduation, they ministered to small churches in Georgia, until they were called to Indiana to continue this mission in Shirley and Wilkinson.  Second child, William Henry Jr. was born there.

When Bill was chosen to be a candidate for the Orem Miller Fellowship for Doctoral Studies at the School of Theology at Boston University they moved to Boston.  They were challenged by the move to a different culture and the inclement weather, but they persisted in being loyal church servant leaders.  The newly minted Rev. Dr. William Henry Likins, ThD, and Martha Grant Likins served two churches in Natick, MA and Worcester, MA.  During this time their third child, David Scott Likins was born.

In 1967 Bill was offered a position with the Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville and the family moved there.  While raising her family there, Martha found meaningful work first as a volunteer teaching reading to those who needed additional individual attention and then as an elementary school teacher, teaching grades 1 to 3.  She was very proud of this service of seven years in her own profession.

She achieved Teacher Certification from the University of Tennessee-Nashville in 1972.  Bill also completed work for the PhD in Higher Education Administration at Peabody College, Vanderbilt

University during their first residence in Nashville.  This paved the way for executive leadership in College administration.

As the spouse of the vice president for development at Adrian College, a UMC college in Michigan, Martha accompanied Bill on calls to key donors and leaders around the country.  It was during the time of this service that Martha received her M.A. in Education from Sienna Heights College in 1981.

In 1984, Bill and Martha were called to service as the President and First Lady of Greensboro College, a UMC college in North Carolina.  Their teamwork there helped to improve the financial status, enrollment, and physical plant of the college.  Again, they travelled widely to serve the college.  In 1992, they retired to Nashville, to be close to grandchildren and family.

Throughout Martha’s long life, she served the church in many ways.  As the spouse of a Methodist pastor, and she also served as a church volunteer and community leader in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

After Bill’s death, Martha began her own solo life as a servant of the church, with special outreach to the sick and dying.  During this time, she met a woman she refers to as my “anam cara” or “soul friend” in Celtic mystic. The Likins family is grateful for Sally Ahner’s love and devotion to Martha.

Survivors include her three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren as well as her brother and sister-in -law, their two children and her close cousin. There are numerous friends around the country who also mourn Martha’s passing.

Friends and family will gather at the West End United Methodist Church at 1:00 PM on June 11, 2022. Following, there will be a celebration of her life held at 2:00 pm.  Donations are gratefully accepted in her memory to: West End United Methodist Church Floral fund, West End United Methodist Church Music fund, and West End United Methodist Church Pastor's Discretionary fund. Her memorial will be live streamed at

Litany of Thanksgiving

For Martha Ann Grant Likins

June 11, 2022

For solace in knowing that her frail body, in repose, is free of suffering,

For Martha’s love of the beauty of Nature, whether it be the colors of the clouds at sunset, the appearance of redbirds at her feeder, or the flowers which she grew or bought, arranged, and gave away often,
For her delight in the Word, preached or studied through scripture or prayed or sung,
For her love of classical music, both sacred and secular, and her support of musicians through ticket purchases and concert attendance,
For her ministry of “contact and connect,” which she performed quite naturally through welcoming strangers who became friends and then connecting them to others she knew, creating a network of connections that are far-reaching,
For her love of little dogs, especially her dogs Char-Lie and Samson who were her constant companions in her latter years,
For her love of all things contemplative, including Centering Prayer which she led for  some years, and the Taizé Service of Prayer and Healing which she supported with her prayers when she could no longer be present,

For being a constant and loving Grandmother,

For her unflagging devotion to her husband and for their shared ministry together for 50 years,

For her devotion to writing and being an inspirational writer and communicator,

For being a good friend to countless people, some for many decades, others more recently, yet all good friends

Memorial Website Content

“I am so blessed to have had a grandmother like Martha in my life. Since I was born, she was a constant, inspirational, loving family member. She taught me things that have shaped who I am, and I am so grateful. She will forever be in my heart.”- Kylie Likins Petrus

“She was ‘one in a million’ good friend! And the epitome of ‘Christ-likeness’. Mary Frances Chappell

As Martha’s only sibling, I have many memories of her dating back to the 1940’s in both Frankfort and Fort Thomas KY.   From Fort Thomas, we moved to Louisville KY    It was there that Martha met her husband-to-be, William Henry Likins in June of 1952.  After the wedding, Martha and Bill move to Atlanta to continue their educations….Bill at Emory, Martha at Oglethorpe.

She last visited us in 2017  Mary Frances Chappell was kind to drive her here for what would be her final visit to Memphis.

We last visited Martha right before COVID.    We enjoyed weekly phone visits with her about days gone by as well as current events.    She will be missed. David Lawrence Grant

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martha Likins, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, June 11, 2022

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

West End United Methodist Church

2200 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

West End United Methodist Church

2200 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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