Martha Stewart Putnam


Martha Stewart Putnam, born in Ellensburg to Glenn and Alma Stewart in 1932, died at home on Vashon on the 29th of May 2007. Her maiden name was Martha Stewart (“I was Martha Stewart long before that woman got the name”). With her family, she started summering on Vashon in 1938. Diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis at 14 did little to slow her down. One summer she swam from Shawnee to Dockton. She taught water ballet at the Ellensburg Y, and could toddle a canoe. She was part of the Smith College Glee Club that toured Europe in 1954, accompanied by a Life Magazine photographer. Stops on their trip included singing in Canterbury Catheral and singing before the Pope in Rome.

Following graduation from Smith she studied and taught at Clarke School for the Deaf in Northhampton. She taught English to Turks in Istanbul at the American College for Girls for four years. One of her round the word trips between home and school included a canoe trip up the rivers through Saigon. She traveled through Anatolia beyond the reach of roads and through Russia in the days of Intourist controls. She remembered eating English Bloaters on a tramp steamer in heavy seas when almost no one came near the dinning room.

Home from foreign teaching in 1963, she met Keith Putnam. Keith proposed after six weeks, they were married six weeks later, and shared 44 years of joy. She taught Special Ed students in the Shoreline and Vashon districts, English as a Second Language, and while substitute teaching at Vashon dealt with welding in the shop class. Keith and Martha had two sets of twin boys in 13 months and raised the three survivors. Following the second delivery, MS had her bedridden for some time, but as the twins began to crawl and then walk, she returned to mobility and to teaching.

Martha was very active in Quartermaster Yacht Club, earning the Quartermaster of the Year award. Summers always included time in the sailboat, going as far north as Sullivan Bay near the north end of Vancouver Island. She served as Mother-away-from-Home for a series of five Rotary exchange students living with the Putnams. Language lessons included “shrink shank shrunk” as students who had never dealt with laundry threw their good woolens in hot water and saw the results.

Martha is survived by husband Keith, sons Adam and family of Eagle Point Oregon; Joshua and family of Pacific Washington; Stewart of Vashon; brother Dr. Charles Stewart and Adrian of Lafayette; Dr. Alec Stewart and Caroline of Pittsburg; brother in law Greg Putnam and Maggie of Ravensdale Washington; sister in law Kathy Myers and Ken of Seattle; twin grandsons Derek and Morgan; six grandchildren by marriage; nieces and nephews and their children.

A celebration of Martha’s life was held at the Robinson Point Lighthouse Park, Saturday June 30th, 2007 at 1:00. Remembrances are suggested to the Vashon Partners In Education scholarship fund.