Martha Hartman

Martha Barton Hartman

1928 - 2020

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Obituary of Martha Barton Hartman

After a long, fulfilling, happy life, Martha “Marty” Barton Hartman, age 92, passed away on October 9, 2020 at her home in Big Sur where she had lived for sixty-five years. Marty was the posthumous child of Benjamin Coulsin Barton and was raised by her mother Myrtle Winn Barton and grandparents in Council Bluffs, Iowa. After graduating from high school, Marty worked as a telephone switchboard operator to put herself through college. She attended the University of Omaha where she played oboe in the school orchestra, and later transferred to Iowa State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics with an emphasis in household equipment. Marty’s college days were truly idyllic and she spoke of them fondly. It was at Iowa State that her Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sister and best friend Maya nicknamed her “Marty,” a name she went by for the rest of her life. Maya also introduced Marty to Ted Hartman, a Theta Chi forestry major attending school on the G. I. bill, who would become Marty’s future husband and great love of her life. As newly-weds fresh out of college, Ted and Marty moved to Washington State where Ted was employed in research and development in the lumber industry and Marty worked at the employment office.

In 1955, the couple partnered with Ted’s parents and bought rustic Ripplewood Resort in Big Sur, a move that fulfilled their needs for better income, interesting and stimulating challenges, and a vital thriving community in which to raise their expanding family. Marty was the resort’s meticulous bookkeeper but also cooked, cleaned, sold groceries, and scooped ice cream as needed. She saw her main role in life, however, as a wife and mother and provided a loving nurturing home for her family. She was a prolific seamstress and was comfortable working with any fabric or pattern. Her pantry shelves were lined with homemade jams and jellies and fruit she had canned herself. She maintained a vegetable garden and every year would grow enough tomatoes to can, dry, give away, and keep the deer happy.

Marty loved meeting people from all walks of life and forged many lasting friendships. Despite her conservative Midwestern upbringing, Marty demonstrated complete openness toward the eclectic mix of artists and Bohemians, homesteaders and pioneers, government workers, literati, and eccentrics her new community comprised. Her friendly unassuming attitude toward others made her a welcome presence anywhere she went. Growing up, 

her three daughters cannot recall a single instance of her denigrating or speaking ill of another person, political figures aside.

In 1965, Ted and Marty leased the resort for others to operate and set about building their own home. Ted became a carpenter and eventually Marty went to work for the Big Sur Post Office, a job she loved and held for twenty-three years. She was a dedicated member and supporter of local nonprofit organizations including the Big Sur Grange, the Big Sur Historical Society, the Big Sur Health Center and the Big Sur Fire Brigade. In the 1960s she performed a variety of roles in the legendary Big Sur Grange Potluck Revues and was cast against type as the villain’s drunken sidekick in the Big Sur Fire Brigade fundraiser melodrama “Fire! Fire!” When post-fire debris flows destroyed the location of the Monterey County Free Library Big Sur Branch in 1972, Marty provided the library a permanent home at Ripplewood Resort. In her retirement, she dedicated many hours volunteering there, and for multiple years coordinated the annual Friends of the Big Sur Library Book Sale.

Once the kids were grown and graduated from college, Marty and her beloved Ted had time for new adventures. In their fifties, they learned to snow ski and went on numerous ski vacations with dear friends and family, staying active on the slopes all the way into their seventies. They traveled around the USA in their camper and traveled abroad. When out in nature, Marty, an avid birdwatcher, was rarely without her binoculars and a bird book.

Marty Hartman is survived by her three daughters: Maya Rizzo (Gene), Leigh Toldi (Francis), Carol Shadwell (Carl), her granddaughter Alicia Toldi, step-grandson John Little Wolf, and nine nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her older brother Horace Barton in 2010 and her husband Theodore Augustin Hartman in 2018.

A celebration of Marty’s life will be held when the times allow it. The family suggests any memorial donations be made to nonprofit organizations that serve the Big Sur community.

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