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.