American Field


Martha Wayne Morton

By David A. Fletcher | Jul 19, 2021

It was a sad phone conversation for me with Billy Morton when I called to express my sympathy following the death of Billy's wife of 61 years, Martha Wayne, who died July 3 in a hospital in Mobile, Ala., result of a stroke from which she was unable to recover.

Martha Wayne was a member of Cottage Church of Christ in Camden, Ala., where a memorial service was held. Burial was in Booneville, Miss., her hometown.

Martha Wayne's final years were not blessed by good health; blindness came and other difficulties. Martha Wayne was 87. She was a great lady, kind and courteous to me always, and I will remember her fondly.

Born in Booneville, Miss., among her high school classmates were her husband Billy Morton and Betty Eaton. Hoyle Eaton was in a more senior class at the same high school.

Martha Wayne is survived by her two sons, Charles and Billy Wayne, three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

I met both Billy Morton and Hoyle Eaton in the mid-1960s as they competed dogs in the Canadian Prairie Chicken Championships, and in most of the southern states winter trials until 1969, when I left employment with the American Field  to enter the wife, family and printing career portion of my life.

In 1980, Jimmy Hinton called and asked me to report the National Free-for-All Championship on his Sedgefields Plantation not far from Selma, Ala. Jimmy had purchased Sedgefields from the heirs of Clyde Morton and was now hosting the great and historic Free-for-All three-hour Championship.

Judges and reporter stayed in the "Butler's" house a hundred yards from Sedgefields' "Big House" which Mr. A.G.C. Sage had built when he put the plantation together. Down the drive another hundred yards was the house where Billy and Martha Wayne lived which had originally been Clyde Morton's residence. Billy had been hired in that era by Jimmy Hinton to be Sedgefields manager and Jimmy Hinton's private dog trainer and field trial handler.

I reported the Free-for-All in 1967, standing in for Bill Brown who reported it for decades, and it was 1980 when I resumed that assignment. As reporter of the three-hour Free-for-All for the ensuing twelve years established in me a great love for three-hour dogs and what it took to win a stake of that level.

I spent a lot of time in the Morton home. I was a bit of a regular guest at lunches, evening meals and just conversation and visiting. Martha Wayne was there cooking wonderful meals, conversing and being a great hostess. Often times I sat on the couch with two remarkable pointer bitches — Wrapup and Allure — with their chins resting on my thighs  They were people dogs, wanting to be as close as they could get to you.

Their field trial wins were remarkable, encompassing both the National Championship and the Free-for-All. They lived in Billy's pickup truck and the house, no kennels for that pair. Billy had a bond with both of them that was remarkable. They went everywhere with him on the front seat of his pickup.

Martha Wayne was a big part of my years at Sedgefields, as was Billy, his love of the Plantation very evident and his dedication to making it one of the best field trial venues in the history of field trials. Billy and a bulldozer with which he was very skillful  mproved the Sedgefields courses for more than a decade.

Rest in peace, Martha Wayne. You were a big part of my twelve years at Sedgefields and I will never forget you and my time with you and Billy.

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