Martha Wilkinson

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Martha Wilkinson
First Lady of Kentucky
In office
December 8, 1987 – December 10, 1991
Governor Wallace G. Wilkinson
Preceded by Bill Collins
Succeeded by Libby Jones
Personal details
Born Martha Carol Stafford
(1941-08-28)August 28, 1941
Casey County, Kentucky
Died May 7, 2014(2014-05-07) (aged 72)
Sarasota, Florida
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Wallace G. Wilkinson (1960–2002; his death)

Martha Carol (Stafford) Wilkinson (August 28, 1941 – May 7, 2014) was an American businesswoman and politician. She served as the First Lady of Kentucky from 1987 to 1991. Born in Casey County, Kentucky, she was the wife of former Kentucky Governor Wallace G. Wilkinson.[1]

In 1960, she married Wallace G. Wilkinson and together they started the Kentucky Paperback Gallery in 1963 which later became Wallace's College Book Company. Martha Wilkinson was business manager of the Wilkinson Farms.[citation needed]

The gown Wilkinson wore at her husband's inauguration was a gift from her sister, Catherine Rubards. She wore it with a gold, ruby and diamond necklace given to her by Governor Wilkinson.[citation needed]

Martha Wilkinson created "Martha's Army" to fight adult illiteracy.[2] Wilkinson's group used techniques such as a telephone hotline, (800)-GED-ARMY, and financial incentives to encourage Kentucky high school dropouts to earn a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.[citation needed] In 1990, country-music singer Waylon Jennings, who dropped out of school in the 10th grade, earned a GED through Martha's Army.[3]

In 1991, when her husband was term limited from seeking a second consecutive term, Wilkinson announced her candidacy for governor. She withdrew from the race before the Democratic primary when polls showed her trailing Lt. Gov. Brereton Jones.[1] She died on May 7, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida.


  1. ^ a b B. Drummond Ayres Jr. (May 30, 1991). "Even Winners Worry at Kentucky's Weak Vote". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  2. ^ Bush, Barbara (1994). Barbara Bush: A Memoir. New York: Scribner. p. 310. ISBN 0-7432-5447-3. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Waylon Jennings Revels in GED". Los Angeles Times. January 29, 1990. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
Preceded by
Dr. Bill Collins
First Lady of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Libby Jones