Published 1:04 pm Monday, January 13, 2020

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Martha  “Marty” Ann Nesbitt Copenhaver, 88, a resident of Tryon Estates, passed away early on January 9, 2020. Marty was born to William and Annie Nesbitt on April 8, 1931, at the original St. Luke’s Hospital in Tryon, NC. Her aunt was Miss Clara Edwards, long-time proprietor of Oak Hall Hotel.

Marty attended Edneyville High School, where her father was principal and her mother taught special education classes. She followed in her mother’s footsteps by earning a teaching credential at UNC-Greensboro when it was still “Women’s College”. After graduation, she began her teaching career in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where she was also active in the local Little Theater. She met and married a physicist employed at Oak Ridge National Lab and subsequently moved with him to Massachusetts, where she continued teaching (in Lexington), and her daughter, Sally, was born. When the marriage ended in the early 1960’s, Marty and Sally returned to Tryon and moved into Oak Hall. Marty worked there for a number of years and enjoyed playing tennis and golf as well as participating in the Tryon Little Theater. Marty had roles in “The Mouse Trap”, “Angel Street”, “The Rainmaker”, “Life With Father”, and “Harvey” and assisted with make-up and wardrobe for other productions. She also sang in the Congregational Church choir and (many years later) trained and served as a Stephen Minister.

In 1969, Marty joined the staff at the Spartanburg Day School, where she taught a variety of grade levels ranging from 1st through 6th. She especially enjoyed teaching children to read and to appreciate literature. Simultaneously, Marty began doing the accounting for her family’s apple farm, and she eventually managed Bearwallow Orchards. Marty was a devoted daughter and niece and spent many years caring for her parents and other elderly relatives. She also co-owned and operated Twin Oaks apartment house on Melrose Avenue with her aunt after Oak Hall closed.

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In the mid-1990’s, Marty was finally able to shift from care-giving, farming, and teaching to grand-parenting and traveling – often to visit her daughter’s family in Livermore, California. In 2016, Marty sold her charming bungalow on Broadway Avenue and moved to Tryon Estates, where she joined several of her closest friends.

Marty is survived by her daughter, Sally Ann Copenhaver Esser, son-in-law, Dr. Bradley K. Esser, and grandchildren, Matthew and Rachel Esser, as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and friends. She is preceded in death by her parents and brother, Dr. William B. Nesbitt. The family would like to thank the dedicated and caring staff at Tryon Estates and Four Seasons Hospice. Donations in Marty’s memory can be made to the Tryon Little Theater (, the Congregational Church (, the Spartanburg Day School (, or the charity of your choice.

 A memorial service will be held at the Congregational Church in Tryon on April 18 at 2 PM.

Condolences to the family can be made to

Sanders Funeral Home of Columbus, NC.