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1946 Martha 2024

Martha Hailey DuBose

June 17, 1946 — January 25, 2024

Wartrace, Tenn.

Martha Leslie Hailey DuBose, 77, born June 17, 1946, of Wartrace, Tenn., died on January 25, 2024. While known by all as the exceptional writer she was, she will be missed as much for her passionate intellectualism, lifelong study of history and politics, wry social commentary, intensely articulate and pointed expression of her deeply held views, and artistic creativity. Her curiosity knew no bounds - she never encountered a rabbit hole without learning every twist and turn until she was an expert.


She was born in Nashville in 1946 to Elizabeth Zerfoss Fryer and Syd Houston Hailey Jr. She was particularly close with her stepfather from the time she was an infant, Edward Allen Fryer, and her maternal grandparents, Dr. Kate Savage Zerfoss and Dr. Thomas Bowman Zerfoss, all of Nashville. Like her parents and grandparents, she attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1968. She then earned a Masters of the Arts in Journalism at the University of Missouri.


Martha was a gifted writer. Researching, critically examining, writing, reading, and all forms of the written word informed her life. Her graduate school years included a stint in Brussels, Belgium covering the European Commission. After graduate school, she married Fred Archie DuBose (they later divorced but remained lifelong friends and professional colleagues) and they moved to Sydney, Australia, where she worked at The Sydney Morning Herald as a reporter, columnist, and film critic (throughout the 1970’s reviewing such iconic films as The Last Picture Show, The Godfather, and Mad Max to name a few). She was also honored by the Australian Commonwealth Arts Ministry for achievement in critical writing. Her love and study of both literature and film remained with her for the entirety of her life.


Upon returning to the United States with her daughters in 1979, she settled in her hometown of Nashville and begun a successful decade-long career in advertising. She later headed for a more pastoral setting, moving first to Bell Buckle and ultimately, Wartrace, Tenn., where she continued what became an extraordinarily varied writing, marketing, and research career as a freelancer for non-profits and corporations, as well as an educator at Motlow State Community College. She also authored a variety of books, including “Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists'' (St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000), which was nominated for an Edgar Award.


She is survived by her siblings William S. Fryer of Columbia, Tenn., Janice Hailey Boyko, of Brentwood, Tenn., Judith Hailey Walden of Phoenix, Syd H. Hailey, III of Woodstock, Ga., and Mary Hailey Cunningham of Huntington Beach, Ca.; daughters, Kate DuBose Tomassi of San Francisco and Polly DuBose (Rick Kersmarki) of Nashville, and her three grandchildren, Matilda Marshall Tomassi, Rowan Elizabeth Tomassi, and Edward Allen DuBose Kersmarki.


The family plans to announce a memorial and celebration of life at a later date. Please consider honoring Martha through a donation to Doctors Without Borders.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martha Hailey DuBose, please visit our flower store.

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