Martha Ann Bauman

Martha Ann Bauman of Keene died peacefully while sleeping on the morning of Nov. 10, 2021. She was almost 90 years old.

Martha was born in 1932 in Sallisaw, Okla., which she liked to note was the town from which the fictional Joad family departed for California in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” She was the daughter of Cecil George Bauman and Frances Hadley Bauman. Martha graduated from Phillips University in Enid, Okla., where she met her future husband, Zane Knoy. They married in 1953.

The couple moved to Cambridge, Mass., in 1956. “We didn’t know where Cambridge even was,” she once said, “but we piled up our worldly goods in a trailer, put our infant daughter in a car crib, borrowed $300 and departed.”

While Mr. Knoy attended Harvard Divinity School, Martha worked at Harvard Business School. She evaluated student reports and wrote case studies, at a time when women were not even allowed to be students at the school. Despite this irony, she was always grateful to the professor who hired her, saying, “He was ahead of his time.”

Over the years, Martha held many positions in community mental health and social service organizations, including in Lynn and Waltham, Mass. A position with Monadnock Family Services brought her to Keene in 1978. She developed and supervised community mental health services including for those returning to the community from the New Hampshire State Hospital. Her work was part of a cutting-edge effort in New Hampshire, as the state and the country began closing large mental health institutions.

In addition to her professional work, Martha helped make Keene, and New Hampshire, a better place through community service. She helped develop the first homeless shelter in the region. She established the security deposit loan fund, which was replicated elsewhere in the state. She served on the board of Cheshire Homes for many years, securing funds for workforce housing. She chaired the board of the N.H. Community Loan Fund and served on the board of the N.H. Housing Finance Authority. Other organizations she worked with include the Keene Conservation Commission, the N.H. Endowment for Health, and the Council for a Healthy Community in Keene.

In her mid-50s, she made a career change and earned a degree in environmental studies at Antioch University in Keene. She worked with the Student Conservation Association for three years. But she missed community work, and returned to Monadnock Family Services.

Martha always loved writing, and found great satisfaction in her post-retirement journalism career. She produced many stories for New Hampshire Magazine on health and senior issues. She wrote environmental and family life articles for The Keene Sentinel. But she was most recognized for her popular “Wit and Wisdom” column in The Sentinel, with a focus on aging and the interests of older people. In 2014, Martha was honored as part of the inaugural class of The Sentinel’s “Extraordinary Women” series.

In addition to her community work, Martha loved to sing. She was a member of local singing groups both in Massachusetts and in Keene, including the Keene Chorale. She enjoyed travelling, to places as varied as Alaska, France, England and China. She once accompanied a cargo plane of goats to Central America as part of the Heifer Project’s work to send farm animals to poor communities. Over the years, she made several trips back to her native Southwest, but she always said that New England was home.

Martha took great pleasure in her three daughters, and was proud of their growth into strong, competent women who care about the quality of life in their communities. She is survived by her daughters: Sarah Jane Knoy and her partner, Kevin Kintner, of Manchester; Pamela Cooke and her husband, Dr. Andrew Cooke, of Keene; and Laura Knoy and her husband, Steven Winnett, of Concord. She is also survived by three grandchildren: Isaiah and Abraham WinnettKnoy and Frances Hadley Cooke, all of whom she loved dearly. Also mourning Martha’s death are her former husband and close friend, Zane Knoy, of Manchester; her “soul sister,” Jean Andrew of Keene; and her late-life companion, Robert Forney, of Harrisville.

A celebration of Martha’s life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 69 Washington St., Keene. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the capacity limit for in-person attendance is 100 people and all attendees must wear a mask covering nose and mouth. Others may watch the service on YouTube. To sign up for the YouTube link, please email rev.michaelkuuc1824@gmail.com.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully suggests donations in Martha’s name be made to the Keene Community Kitchen at 37 Mechanic St., P.O. Box 1315, Keene NH 03431 (https://thecommunitykitchen.org/donate/); or to the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention (https://mcvprevention.org/donate/).