ALEXANDRIA — Martha J. Sawyer, 78, died Aug. 8, 2019, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. She died in her 50th year of marriage to Frank N. Sawyer, who survives her.
Martha was born in Portland, Maine, one of four daughters of the Rev. Ralph H. and Mary Louise (Jenkins) Winn. Growing up in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and Webster, New York, she represented her father’s churches at state and national youth conferences. She was the Harvest Queen of Webster in 1958.
Martha received her bachelor's degree in Education and Music from Olivet College, where her senior organ recital received much acclaim. At Olivet, she lived in the Senior Honors House, where she made lifelong friends. She then earned her master's degree in Education from Boston University.
Martha was a talented musician with a beautiful singing voice and a gift for piano, organ and composition. She was an accompanist, beginning in her high school years, and sang in the Olivet College Sextet. During graduate school, she was organist for the Wednesday Service at Old South Church in Boston. Martha created, composed and directed musical programs for children in schools in which she taught. Her music was performed at her mother’s funeral.
Her teaching career in elementary education began in Montpelier, Vermont, Hanover, New Hampshire, and New Hampton, New Hampshire. Subsequently, Frank and Martha began teaching in American schools abroad, which they considered to be the greatest adventure of their lives. Those schools, on three continents, were in Iran, Romania, Algeria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chad and Gabon. It was during their stay in Romania that they met a colleague, Glenda Gay Scott, who became a lifelong friend and honorary member of the family.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, Matthew Sawyer, of Leesburg, Virginia, and his wife, Kristin; two grandsons, Alex and Teagan; three sisters, Julie Peterson of Franklin, Tennessee, Wendy Oliver and husband Charles of Attleboro, Massachusetts, and Pamela Kapitz and Darvin Kapitz of Westborough, Massachusetts; nephews Andrew Peterson and husband Bob Barrett, Kevin Peterson and wife Larayne, Christopher Kapitz, Ryan Kapitz and wife Carolyn, Jeffrey Oliver and partner Betsy LeVine, and Jonathan Oliver; great-nieces and -nephews Sloane and Tyler Peterson, Hayley and Lukas Kapitz, and Eloise Oliver; and cousins Jerry and Martha Doolittle and their son, Erik, and daughter Beth, who attended Martha at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
There will be a memorial service on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 4 p.m. at the Emmons Funeral Home, 115 South Main St., Bristol, NH 03222.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the charity of one's choice.