Margaret Martin Gehman continues to be a pacesetter as she embarks on her ninth decade as one of Eastern Mennonite University’s (EMU) leading philanthropists and a beloved professor emerita.
Affectionately known as “Speedy” for her decades of fast-paced walking in and around EMU’s campus, Gehman celebrated her 90th birthday on May 24, 2012, among friends and former co-workers.
“The Lord has been so good to me and has blessed me with the ability to serve and the opportunity to share with others,” said Gehman, who was one of the first women graduates of EMU to earn a doctorate. She received hers in Art Education from George Peabody College (now Vanderbilt University) in 1962.
Gehman, who received a two-year degree from EMU in 1942, has been a long-time contributor to EMU. Her name adorns the two-year-old art gallery in University Commons and she has a scholarship fund that provides financial aid for physical education and art students.
EMU President Loren Swartzendruber presided over the afternoon festivities, which included a luncheon and time of sharing. Swartzendruber said Gehman has “an incredible gift for frugality and generosity, a rare blend that you do not typically find.”
Swartzendruber complemented Gehman for her “graceful way of understanding that things change,” while holding onto “things that are important” and “accepting those who hold different views and opinions.”
Kirk Shisler, vice president of advancement, said Gehman has contributed to several development campaigns, including nine capital projects, University Commons Phase I, Phase II and the EMU Turf Field.
The EMU professor emerita joined the faculty in 1944 and taught art and physical education courses until her retirement in 1987. A “Philanthropist of the Year” award created in 2005 bears her name.
Gehman credits her late parents for “teaching the value of a lifestyle of simplicity and generosity.”