Life, Revisited, Revisited

Back in January on this blog, I told the genuinely happy story of how I helped a woman from Illinois, Martha Eads Ward, find her ex-husband’s obituary, only to find instead that the former mate was still very much alive and living in Hamlin, NY.  After several communications, Martha wound up visiting her ex, and expressed hope that one day I would be able to meet up with her as well.

Just a few weeks ago, that day came, as I got to meet Martha, former librarian, children’s book author, and 92 years young, as she made one of her trips to see her one-time spouse, Vince, and his lovely home looking out on Lake Ontario. Martha is just as delightful as her letters and our phone calls have been, and she regaled my wife and I with tales of working in New York Public Library, as well as writing her reference books which are still in use today. The whole adventure from my initial discoveries to seeing her in person will remain one of my favorite accomplishments as a librarian. I should be hearing more from Martha for quite some time.

Below are a few shots of our visit, as well as a copy of one of her books which she signed for RPL.

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—Bob Scheffel, Librarian, Local History Division

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Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 11:24 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wonderful story, Bob. Certainly one of the delights of your profession is just this sort of connection between people, books and history. Every one of us who has worked in the field of library and archives has a good story or two to tell. I’m delighted you got that book sgned for the RPL collection.

  2. Hi I enjoy your blog and tought i’d pass on an idea for a future subject.

    I just read “the President and the Assassin,” by Scott Miller – a story about the assassination of William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz (sp?). I was surprised to learn that one of Czolgosz’s key sources of inspiration had a Rochester connection. Emma Goldman was an important orator and radical journalist in the Anarchist movement and moved to Rochester from Russia before moving on to NYC. Her lecture circuit often included Rochester. Gzolgosz cited her as the inspiration of his assassination and she was one of the only anarchists who did not try to distance herself from his act. She spent several weeks in jail as police investigated whether she was a co-conspirator. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to do a deeper dive into her Rochester connection, as she was essentially a contemporary of Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King who viewed society from a perch in Rochester and saw a need for change. Obviously, she had different ideas and solutions.

    Food for thought

    Patrick Flanigan.

    Sent from my iPad

    • Pat, That sounds interesting. I have always been curious about Marcia Brown (b. 1918), the well-known children’s book illustrator and writer. Her bios (see Wiki et al) all list her as born in Rochester, but I always wondered where and what high school she attended. I think I read her father was a clergyman. It’s something I don’t have time to track down, but maybe Bob would be interested.

      • Marcia Brown is living in southern California. There is a nice bio of her on her publisher’s website. I looked at it weeks ago–think it was Simon and Schuster. She has won so many prizes for her books and illustrations. I wish there was someway for the RPL to recognize her.

    • Indeed, we could fill a year’s worth of posts on famous people with Rochester connections. All these are great ideas and worth looking at for future posts.

  3. […] Readers of this blog are most likely familiar with the story of Martha Ward and how I helped her reconnect with her lost husband Vince, who she mistakenly thought had passed away. Rather than rehash the tale, you can read about it here and here. […]

  4. It is our bittersweet duty to share with you the news that on Thursday, July 2, 2015, Sister Death embraced our sister Martha “Marty” Ward, O.F.S., a member of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Fraternity, Quincy. Born on July 21, 1921, Marty was 93 years young at the time of her death, just a few days shy of her 94th birthday. She was admitted into the Secular Franciscan Order on June 16, 2013 and professed on October 19, 2014. Marty was known and deeply loved for her unassuming simplicity, her ready smile, her overflowing gratitude for every little kindness shown to her, and her optimism. Her journey to the Secular Franciscan Order even relatively late in her earthly life gives us an example of how the mystery of God’s grace works in the hearts of those who love Him and who seek His will. As Marty said, “I came when God called me!” Final arrangements are pending at this time.

    • I am heartbroken to hear this. I was planning on calling her just a couple of weeks ago. She was a truly lovely lady, and I’m glad to have contributed to her happiness in her later years.


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