Martha Belle Close, 90, of Pittsburg, died at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at Via Christi Hospital.

Martha Belle was born September 12, 1920 in Miltonvale, Kansas to Henry and Lizzy (Hart) Crane.

While growing up in Miltonvale, she worked on the family farm. Then upon graduating from high school in 1939, she moved to Wichita and attended beauty school. Through the years she owned and operated several beauty shops.

On October 19, 1947, she was united in marriage to Larry Close at her parentís home in Clay Center, Kansas. He preceded her in death on April 19, 2004. They were married for 57 years.

They settled in Iola, Kansas where in 1955, they built the L & M Truck Stop, which they operated until 1968. After selling the business, they moved to Pittsburg, Kansas for several years and then on to the Grand Lake area where they started a Bass boat manufacturing facility. In 1979, they moved to Butler, Missouri to be closer to family. Then in 1990, they moved back to Grove, Oklahoma to enjoy retirement on the lake.

Martha greatly cherished her family and friends. Her children and grandchildren were one of her greatest pleasures. Martha was always a big supporter of her children and grandchildrenís activities. She enjoyed volunteering at the Grove hospital as a Cherry Red and also participating in many church activities. Martha also enjoyed quilting and other handwork for which she won many blue ribbons. She was a great cook; the best fried chicken ever! No one ever went away from her home hungry. One of her favorite pastimes was bowling, which she enjoyed well into her 70s.

You always knew where you stood with Martha as she was very straight forward and truthful no matter whom you were. Martha Bell as she was known by family and friends will be missed by all who had the pleasure to come in contact with her.

Survivors include two sons, Ron Close and wife, Nancy of Pittsburg and Rev. Gary Close and wife, Diane of Coffeyville; four grandchildren, Melissa Hotze and husband, Todd of Allen, Texas, Ryan Close of Scottsdale, Ariz., Randy Close of Lawrence and Rodney Close of Coffeyville; four great-grandchildren, Quentin, Devon, Dylan and Avery who is expected in February. Martha is also survived by one sister, Florence Albard of Delphos, Kan., and several nieces and nephews.

Martha was preceded in death by her parents, sisters, Mildred and Eleanor, and brother, Paul.

Services was held at 11 a.m. Monday, November 22 at the Brenner Mortuary with Rev. Donald Enright officiating. Burial followed in the National Cemetery at Fort Scott, Kansas. The family received friends from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Brenner Mortuary, where friends called after 10 a.m. Sunday.

The family suggests memorials be given to the First United Methodist Church of Pittsburg. These may be left at or mailed to the Brenner Mortuary, 114 E. 4th St., Pittsburg, KS 66762.

Friends may leave condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary, Pittsburg, Kan.