"There are no
ordinary people..."
C. S. Lewis

Martha McKibben

Saturday, January 19, 1957
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Chicago, IL
Service Information: 
Two Celebration of Life Services:                                                                                             Tucson, AZ: Celebration of life on Sunday, January 19, 2020 (Martha’s birthday) at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ. Arrival and visitation will begin at 10:00 AM, with the ceremony at 11:30 AM, followed by a reception with food and refreshments.                                                                                                                             Bellingham, WA: The Bellingham celebration of life is being planned for June 2020.  

Martha McKibben passed away on October 31, 2019, at the young age of 62 from an aggressive brain tumor. The tumor was diagnosed on June 5th without prior symptoms. She died in her home in Bellingham, Washington with family at her side. Martha was born on January 19, 1957 in Chicago to Richard and Helen (Hackel) McKibben, and she was raised in the Rogers Park neighborhood. She attended Prescott College, Western Washington University, and Vermont College, and went on to graduate with a Masters in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin -- while raising a young family.

Martha was a social worker who dedicated her life to helping others through 35 years of service and advocacy. She worked at a domestic violence shelter in rural Wisconsin, on domestic violence and adoption issues for the State of Wisconsin, and for over 20 years at Northwest Hospital and the Women’s Center in Tucson, Arizona. Martha retired in 2014 and split her time between Bellingham, WA and Tucson, AZ. She hosted friends and family from near and far, showering them with delicious home-cooked meals, outdoor adventures, and a micro-mini dessert each evening. Martha loved gardening and enjoyed being active outdoors. She did her own version of a triathlon daily: float (kayak or swim), stroll (hike), and glide (bicycle). She also enjoyed hiking in state and national parks, and ticking off her list of state capitol buildings visited. 

Martha was a determined advocate and a force for justice and integrity packed in a kind, caring person. She possessed a beautiful smile and welcoming personality that brought joy to all. She had a life well-lived with so much love, dedication, and consideration for others, whether it was spending time with family, helping a friend, or advocating for a just world. Martha leaves behind wonderful, cherished memories for all who loved her so much.

She is survived by her partner of 42 years, Jeff Schlegel; her three children and their partners, Nick (Lynsey), Tyler (Grace), and Helena (Zac); and her two grandchildren, Henry and Lily.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations may be made to the following organizations among the many that Martha valued:

For Bellingham: the PeaceHealth Cancer Center through the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, or the Whatcom Land Trust.

For Tucson: the Tucson Audubon Society, the Healing Hearts Garden in the Women’s Center at Northwest Hospital, or the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.

Guestbook Entries

Submitted by Jeff Schlegel on

Rest in peace, love of my life. Thank you for everything you did for me, our family, and the world. We all felt and valued your love, our spirits were lifted by your joyous smile, and we were inspired by your dedicated service and advocacy. The world is a better place because of you. Bless you. Love you forever. Jeff

Submitted by Kirsten Frysinger on

My heartfelt best wishes to someone I didn't know, but wish I did. 

Submitted by Ellen & Eddie on

We feel blessed to have met you and to have spent time with you and your family. Your dedication and passion for social justice and your love for your family, friends, and community was always so strong and clear and continue to provide inspiration to us both. You always brought joy and happiness into the room, and we will really miss you.

Submitted by Linda Liggett on

Martha, You were always an inspiration to me and truly the wind beneath my wings. Miss you so much.


Submitted by Sue Rinke on

I'm so sorry for your loss. Martha and I went to grade school together in Rogers Park and I remember at a very young age   her kindness. She will be in my heart. 

Submitted by Nancy Peasley on

I am truly heartbroken. Martha was one of the kindest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I was so lucky to call her my dear friend and I will miss her so much. deepest sympathy to the Schlegel family, words are not enough.

Submitted by Liz Caris on

Still in shock. Martha was so giving, and completely available as a friend. She raised three great kids and adored Jeff. I will miss my friend . Such a blessing to have known her. 


Submitted by Caryn Potter on

I feel lucky to have known you and spent time with you. Your passion for others was inspiring, and your legacy will continue through those lives you have touched. May you rest in peace. 

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