Martha Hawkes UllbergMartha Hawkes Ullberg, 70, passed away Thursday, December 4, 2014, at the Cayuga Medical Center with family at her side. After eleven years of coexistence with cancer and numerous other ailments, Martha earned her rest.

She was born on October 11, 1944, in Washington, DC and raised in Walpole, Mass., the daughter of Arthur and Eleanor Hawkes. Her roots were deep in New England soil and proper Yankee behavior was part of her nature. She graduated from the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in Boston in 1963 and, later, over the course of twenty one years Martha served as the devoted secretary (a title she carried with pride) for economist Alfred Kahn.

In retirement she turned the sewing skills she had learned at a young age from her mother, to quilting.  Her bright and beautiful quilts were gifts to many people in the community, including through the Lenten quilting program that annually creates dozens of baby quilts to be given to mothers in need. She was a dedicated gardener and sworn enemy of marauding deer. She could be seen many an evening in her garden, anti-deer spray bottle in hand, shielding her precious plants from harm.

Martha had a genuine childlike innocence and joy in life that belied her tough inner core. Along with her children and husband she was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Ithaca where she served as a deacon and had many friends.

Martha was raised to be an obedient daughter but in 1964 at age nineteen, this small-town girl announced to her parents that she was joining a friend to travel across the country in a VW Beetle to California in order to be on the pier when her new love, John, returned from a tour of duty in the South China Sea. Forty nine years of marriage started in a Quonset Hut on the naval base at Hunter’s Point, San Francisco.  It saw them through moves to Cambridge where Martha supported John through graduate school and gave birth to their first child, Phoebe, and then on to a little house in Lexington MA, perfect for the additional child they were expecting. That child turned out to be twins Michael and Jesse. The family of five arrived in Ithaca in 1985 when John became Landscape Architect for Cornell. After the children grew and left the house, Martha and John settled in the hamlet of Trumansburg where they were embraced by that loving community. You may have had the pleasure of being served by her at the Gemm shop in Tburg or enjoyed her company during a “Takin Care of Tburg” Saturday work day. Martha thrived in the company of other people.  She loved her community of Trumansburg and touched many people there.  Many will suffer her absence. That community has rallied around Martha in a most remarkable way in her last days. 

She was also an avid Red Sox fan. She would often be heard in the TV room through the 2013 season calling out the name of her favorite player, “Jacobeeeee”! Martha had an almost childlike joy in living. One of the highpoints of her life was a three week motorcycle tour through New Zealand with John in 1996.

Martha was a fiercely devoted mother, grandmother, wife and friend. She leaves behind husband John, sister Rosalind Ryan, sister-in-law Tina Colehower (William), daughter Phoebe, twin sons Jesse and Michael (Betsye Caughey, daughters Lola & Avalon) and grandson Jesse Dean Johnson.

Never a complainer nor self-absorbed she accepted her many illnesses as simply part of life. She overflowed with beauty, grace, humility and courage. And she was a lady.

A Memorial Service will be conducted at the First Presbyterian Church, 315 N. Cayuga Street on Saturday, December 13th at 12:30pm. A party to celebrate Martha’s life is being planned for May 1, 2015, the date of John and Martha’s 50th anniversary, in Trumansburg. Memorial contributions may be made to the Gemm Shop, 13 W Main St., Trumansburg, NY 14886.