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Martha “Kate” Bell Gerbitz

TENNESSEE – Martha “Kate” Bell Gerbitz died surrounded by her family on January 3, 2024, at the age of 78 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Born on February 1, 1945, in Edmonton to Mary Martha Hill Bell and Robert Fulton Bell, she was the youngest of four children. She graduated from Metcalfe County High School in 1962 and then from David Lipscomb College in 1966 where she was selected “Miss Lipscomb,” the highest honor for a senior female. In college, she met her husband of 57 years, Gary Daniel Gerbitz. After they married, they lived in Knoxville where she taught school and he attended law school.

They moved to Edmonton where their first daughter, Leah Marie Gerbitz, was born in 1969. They moved to Chattanooga where their second daughter, Leslie June Gerbitz Sharpe was born in 1970. She had a lengthy teaching career in various schools, including J.B. Brown Middle School, Central High School, Boyd Buchanan School, and Girls Preparatory School. Her intellect and teaching skills were so versatile that she taught both high school English and Mathematics during her career. Taking versatility to further heights, she also coached tennis and track. Her greatest skill as a teacher was reaching the not-so-perfect students, showing them how to understand tricky concepts and feel confident in themselves.

Throughout her life, she was an exceptional athlete. She tore through the competition of many local road races in the 1970s and 80s including the Chattanooga Chase. To see her on the tennis court was to get a glimpse of the game as it should be played — beautifully, tirelessly. She could return shots for hours on end. She developed a deep love for golf later in life, hitting nine career holes-in-ones. In recent years, she jumped on the pickleball bandwagon with the same joyful determination and uncanny skill as all her other endeavors.

She was extremely well-read, and she wrote with a uniquely lyrical and poetic voice. She was a naturally talented cook who instinctively knew how to make delicious food without a recipe. She was a skilled seamstress and a beautiful home decorator.

She was already always more than most of us could dream of being, yet her greatest passion was for being a deeply loving wife, mother, and grandmother. Her grandchildren called her “Mamba,” a unique name that, to her family, became synonymous with her tenacious, all-encompassing, and ever-present love and attention.

Each member of her vast network of friends was a cherished source of love and support to her. She never forgot, and she never quit loving each person in her life. Her faith and love of God shone clearly through her love for all His people.

She is survived by her husband Gary; daughters, Leah and Leslie; son-in-law, Robert Randall Sharpe; grandchildren, Emeline Marie Sharpe, Grady Daniel Sharpe, Kate Bell Becksvoor, and Jane Adele Becksvoort (all of Chattanooga); sister, Mary Alice Bell Yokley, Huntsville, AL; sisters-in-law, Gay Doreen Gerbitz Gould (Chris), Seal Beach, CA, and Gloria Dawn Gerbitz VanNote (Benno), Chattanooga, TN.

She was predeceased by her parents, Martha and Robert Bell; brother, John Fulton Bell (Shirley), all of Edmonton; sister, Roberta Frances Bell Temple (John), Milton, FL; brother-in-law, Leroy Mark Yokley, Edmonton; niece, Martha Lee Temple Todd, Milton, FL; and her parents-in-law, June Adele Wilder Gerbitz and Edward Joseph Gerbitz, Sarasota, FL.

She also leaves nieces and nephews, Teresa Kindred (Bill), Michael Temple (Renee), Mark Yokley (Lisa), Robert Bell (Kelly), Russell Yokley (Talitha), Ed Temple (Susie), Daniel Yokley (Lori), Chad Rikard, Cory Rikard, Courtney Holcombe (Doug), and Brent Waitneight, and their children.

A memorial service was held at First Christian Church of Chattanooga on January 10, 2024.

Memorial contributions may be directed to CHI Memorial Foundation to honor the care provided by the staff in the Oncology Unit www.memorial.org/foundation or to a charity of your choice.

Arrangements were by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory, and Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson, TN 37343. Please share your thoughts and memories at www.chattanooganorthchapel.com.

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