Martha Ree Bostick: Playground bears name of Bostick family matriarch

When people think of the name Bostick, they likely think of Sunshine Mills, Sunshine Homes and the efforts of Fred Bostick and sons Alan and John throughout the years. Behind every great man, however, is a great woman, as the saying goes, and people might not be as familiar with the actions of one woman who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

“She was such a true role model for all of us and made such an imprint in the community,” explained Rosalyn Fabianke of her friend, Martha Ree Bostick. She described the Bostick matriarch as someone who “moved in quiet ways but had a dynamic spirit,” a “true example of not only a wonderful mother but also a heart for people and for Red Bay.”

Fabianke began a campaign to see the Red Bay Elementary School playground rehabilitated some 10 years ago, and she knew she wanted to see it named for Bostick. When daughter Harriet Bostick returned to the Red Bay community three years ago, she found the playground in disrepair and took up the charge to be part of upgrading it for the coming generations.

“Dr. (Jacqueline) Parsons and I started working on it,” explained Harriet. They enlisted the help of Mayor Charlene Fancher and the City of Red Bay, and big plans are in the works for the playground – along with more aesthetic upgrades, like the Peanuts-Inspired mural painted by retired FACS teachers Sherry Hutcheson this past year.

Harriet said Fabianke, who she called “an outstanding person,” and her mother went to church together at First Methodist of Red Bay, and “I guess it was apparent we needed something named for Martha. She was really the power behind the throne,” Harriet explained. “She was community-oriented, and she loved children. She was the rock of our family. She kept us all at work.”

Fabianke said the playground, as it continues to be upgraded and improved, will “be a powerful way for children to not only have fun but learn skills and enhance their creative abilities in the classroom.”

“My background is health and fitness, and I was just a volunteer mom at the school,” explained Fabianke, a member of the Governor’s Fitness Commission. “The main thing was to get children moving and active, not only for their physical beings but also to help them in the classroom.”

With the elder Bostick’s passion for children, having her name on the playground seemed a fitting tribute.

“She just had a vibrant spirit, and she was real involved in the Methodist church and did so many special things,” praised Fabianke.

“She was a big supporter of education and children’s issues,” Harriet agreed. “We were trained to believe in education. It was just part of our growing up – to always support the school.”

Harriet noted the “Playground with a Purpose” is “one area in the school that is visited by over 400 children every school day. It needs to be top-notch for our elementary children.”

Enhanced safety and additional, newer playground equipment are a big focus. “The need is great, and they love the playground,” Harriet said. “This spring we painted some, and we have a little more equipment, and they just love it … Children are enthusiasts, and if you give them any kind of uplift, they enjoy it immediately.”

Harriet, 75, said though her mother has has passed away, she knows how she would feel to see her name on the playground. “She would be embarrassed. She was a behind-the-scenes person. She didn’t want her name on anything.”

Work on the playground continues, and Harriet is committed to the effort. “I don’t want to be singled out as the leader. This is a team effort, and we have a long way to go,” explained Harriet, who has continued to work closely with Parsons. “We’ve done some little things, but we need to do some bigger things. This is just in the beginning stages.”

“The delightful thing has been the way the community is so excited,” added Fabianke. “I think the playground will make an impact.”

Martha Ree was marred to Fred Bostick Jr., and they had four children – daughters Harriet and Jill and sons Alan and John.

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