Martha Estelle Morrison was born on July 2, 1922 in Dorchester, MA, daughter of Malcolm and Josephine Morrison. She died at the age of 96 on October 28, 2018, at Saint Helena Hospital.
Martha grew up on King Cove, in North Weymouth, MA. She graduated as a Registered Nurse from Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA in 1945, and joined the Cadet Nurse Corps at the end of WWII. A few years after graduation, she joined the Frontier Nursing Service in 1949 and spent several years as a nurse midwife-on-horseback in rural Kentucky. In a Jeep or riding her favorite horse, Doc, Martha forded rivers and creeks to deliver babies for the families she served. She sang as she rode, a necessary precaution because of mountain feuds. ‘We were always told not to ride quietly, to make noise,’ she said. ‘I was a singer; they always knew when I was coming.”
In 1952, Martha returned to Boston where she joined the staff at Boston Lying-In Hospital. Later, in a nursing career that spanned more than 40 years and included a stint as president of the Providence Association of Medical Assistants, she joined a Rhode Island medical practice. Following her retirement in 1986, she cared for her mother, who lived to 104, and her aunt. She was a skilled gardener, an artist, a doting dog-owner, and an active member and choir soloist at her Baptist Church.
She was known for her loving kindness, steady gentle nature, and appreciation for the simple things of life. She was always there for her family, friends, and anyone in need.
She moved to Woodbridge Village in Saint Helena, California, in 2004, with her sister Eloise to be close to her sister’s children. A life-long painter, Martha was painting and sketching up to the day she died. She was active in a Rianda House painting club, and had an exhibition of her work at the Saint Helena Public Library. She was also active in the First Presbyterian Church of Saint Helena.
She is survived by her sister Eloise Peña (husband, Cesareo Peña, deceased); nephew Arthur Peña; niece Heather Peña and her sons Ryan Searl and Jack Searl (fiancé Jessie); grandnephew Beck Henderer-Peña (son of Elita Peña, deceased) and wife Myste and their two children, Hudson and Emma; and cousin Wendy Longo.
Morrison Funeral Chapel is serving the family, and Martha’s ashes will be interred at Evergreen Cemetery, in Portland, Maine.
A celebration of Martha’s life will be held at the Community Center of Woodbridge Village, 727 Hunt Ave., Saint Helena, on Saturday, November 10, at 2:00 PM. Rev. Jonathan Eastman will officiate. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Frontier Nursing Service; 2050 Lexington Road; Versailles, KY 40383; (859) 251-4700.