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Pioneering Camp Fire Girls leader Martha Hope dies
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Martha Hope

Martha Hope, who devoted much of her life to programs for girls of Northeast Georgia, has died following a period of declining health.

Hope, a Jefferson native, was a volunteer with the Yonah council of the Girl Scouts of America when her daughters were young. She eventually became executive director for a 13-county area.

Later she would become executive director for Camp Fire Girls, which later became known as Camp Fire.

Hope founded Camp Echoee, a summer camp for girls, first at a location in the Nacoochee Valley, later in Habersham County.

A cabin that is now a part of City Park was named in her honor. The rustic cabin on Prior Street was the site of Girl Scout and later, Camp Fire activities.

"Mama had some help, but she did most of the work," said Sue Ware, her daughter. "I would say she impacted thousands of girls over 42 years."

Martha Hope retired from Camp Fire in 1995.

In 1942, she came to Gainesville as a home economist.

During that time, she met her future husband, Edgar, who was then a fireman on the Gainesville Fire Department. He died in 1984.

"Mama was the queen of mothers," Ware said. While she was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church, she taught first-grade Sunday school at First Baptist Church.

"She led our Girl Scout troops and did whatever needed to be done for her children," Ware said, adding that her mother instilled the same devotion to family and community in her daughters.

She is survived by Ware and another daughter, Marian Finco of Watkinsville, and a granddaughter, Martha Frances Ware of Baltimore, Md.

Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Martha Hope Cabin on Prior Street. A private burial service will be held on Thursday at Alta Vista Cemetery under the direction of Mason & Ward Funeral Home.

A memorial service will be held at the cabin in the spring.

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