Santa Barbara is no less beautiful, but will be slightly less improved due to the loss of Martha Green-late of Samarkand-who died at age 84 on March 17 after a battle with cancer. Active in many local organizations, Martha had become a distinctive thread in the local fabric for nearly 50 years.
As a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, and volunteer, Martha made a lasting impression on Santa Barbara since her arrival in 1960. Hundreds of the friends she made during the years paid tribute to her on March 23 at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.
Born in 1923, Martha was the eldest of three children. The role of matriarch was thrust upon Martha at age 12, when her mother died of pneumonia. Within a year, her father died of a cerebral hemorrhage and once Martha knew her baby brother, Julian, was in very good hands, on her initiative she was soon reunited with her sister Joyce under the care of their maiden aunt, Emily Knowles. From then on, Martha took on a responsibility for her family that she upheld throughout her entire life.
Martha met a soldier at nearby Fort Benning, and married in 1944. Escaping her Southern gothic origins, she settled in her new husband’s home of Sacramento, and brought twin girls, Tammy and Martoo, into the world the next year. Almost a decade later, a third daughter, Lisa, was born.
After her marriage ended, Martha relocated to Santa Barbara and worked for orchestra leader I. Newton Perry, as well as for the American Cancer Society. She also encouraged and nurtured each of her daughters as they pursued their own careers. At an adult education course, she met Jerome Green, a retired chemist, and in 1967 the pair launched a lifelong partnership.
It was observed at her memorial that Martha “put the Southern in Southern California.” She became the embodiment of a Santa Barbara lady, dividing her time between working to support her family and volunteering for unnumbered efforts. For years, she led a group at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, making dried arrangements to sell in the museum shop; she was also a longtime member of the Ladies Brotherhood.
Armed with unerring (and often daring) taste, Martha was sought after for her flair. Martha often made the most of simple things, combining and arranging with a masterful touch. With old-world charm and West Coast creativity, she volunteered for more than three decades on the team that created flowers for the altar of the Unitarian Society, and maintained its charming courtyard garden.
In that same courtyard, with bright tulips floating on its fountain, friends honored Martha’s blithe spirit on March 23. “I already miss her dreadfully,” said Betty Newcomb, during her “remembrance” at the service. Lex Crane, who officiated her service, was not alone in noting that Martha had a subtle, but firm way of standing her ground. “If she didn’t agree with something you’d said, she’d simply respond, ‘You think so, huh?’” The venerable minister slyly added, “Sometimes, she said it even to me!”
Bon voyage, Martha. Already, we all miss you dreadfully.