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Martha Earnhardt, matriarch of famed racing family, laid to rest

Her celebration of life was held on Wednesday in Kannapolis.

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Martha Earnhardt, the matriarch of the Earnhardt family, died Christmas evening at the age of 91, according to family members.

A celebration of her life was held on Wednesday at Memorial Baptist Church in Kannapolis. The service was officiated by Rev. Jason Barber. According to the obituary posted by Whitley's Funeral Home, the family requested that all who attend be mindful and wear a mask and maintain social distancing. 

“To all those who knew her, she was also a mother to a lot of other families," Barber said. "There’d be cousins who still look to her as mom because of the way she loved and just took people in."

For people who were unable to attend, her service was live-streamed on the church's website.

Her granddaughter, Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, spoke for the entire Earnhardt family at the memorial service 

“Just beyond the sadness, just beyond the anger, just beyond the fear, sadness," Kelley Earnhardt-Miller said. "The hope is in Jesus. His love. The love of Jesus that she knew and she wanted each and everyone one of us to know." 

She called the town of Kannapolis home for decades.

"Everybody was family -- she didn’t know a stranger," Drock Bowman, a neighbor of Martha Earnhardt, said." If you were in the neighborhood walking or driving by and she was on the porch she would wave at you."

The family requested that memorials be made to either the Dale Jr. Foundation and/or Memorial Baptist Church.

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Kelly Earnhardt Miller and Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that she died in a joint statement on Sunday:

“It is with great sadness that we share the news that Martha Earnhardt passed away Christmas evening. As we grieve her loss and begin to imagine life without our beloved ‘Mamaw,’ we find solace in knowing she is at peace in eternal glory and in joyous reunion with her husband Ralph and sons Dale, Randy and Danny. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers, and thank you so much for loving our Mamaw as if she were your own. She was not just the matriarch to our family, but she was the matriarch to multiple generations of race fans.”

RELATED: Martha Earnhardt, matriarch of famed racing family, passes away

Dale Jr. also posted on Instagram, sharing a heartfelt tribute to his grandmother, saying, "I'm thankful that I got to tell her I loved her before she left. What a life she lived. What amazing things she saw and experienced during her 91 years. I hope we are all so lucky to live such a full life and leave it so peacefully. Until we meet again…"

JR Motorsports also shared the message on its website along with a photo of the Earnhardt family.

NASCAR also shared a statement on Sunday about the passing. 

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The racing family left a big impact on the town where Martha Earnhardt lived and raised five children. 

"The name Earnhardt is important in NASCAR and in the community, it’s just immense," Frank Tapia, who lives in nearby Concord, said. "You telling me that Mrs. Earnhardt had passed away was a shock." 

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In a statement, Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant said:

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Martha Earnhardt.

In addition to being the matriarch of a legendary racing family, she was a treasured member of our community. This was evidenced a few years ago when she was named the Kannapolis Christmas Parade Grand Marshal and thousands showed up to honor her.

If you dropped by her home you were always welcomed as if you were one of her family members that she loved so dearly. She would give you updates on all her children and their families and would want to ensure all was well with you.

On behalf of the City of Kannapolis, we offer our deepest condolences to her family. She will be greatly missed.

RELATED: Danny Earnhardt Sr., younger brother to Dale Sr., passes away

The news comes less than a month after Danny Earnhardt Sr. passed away at age 66. JR Motorsports also shared the news to their website, saying he died at his home on Friday, Dec. 10.

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