Martha was born the seventh of eight children on March 12, 1927, to John and Mary (Schroeder) Harder, in Hillsboro, KS. She passed away on June 25, 2021 in Lodi, CA.
She was born in the Depression when her father was declining from the neurological effects of encephalitis. Everyone learned to work hard by helping out to take care of daddy and keep up with the chores. Her mother went to work and kept the home fires burning.
Martha attended Enterprise Academy and then took secretarial classes to prepare for her lifelong career in office work.
She spent some time in San Francisco with her oldest brother Paul and his wife Lee where she met their neighbor Allen Kirtley. They married on Christmas Day in 1948. Al decided to go to college so they moved into married housing at Pacific Union College. During this time they had their first child Steve. The next year found them in Alabama where Al tried his hand at farming. While there, Marcia was born. Then they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where Rhonda was born. Martha raised the kids and held the family together through polio and the struggles of early married life and parenting young kids while working as a secretary.
After divorcing, Martha decided to take the kids and move back to California. She worked at Stanford University in the Math department for ten years. While there she started a sandwich business selling deli sandwiches to workers at lunch time at Stanford. She also typed dissertations for students in the evening at home but still always had a delicious dinner on the table for her three teenagers. Then she moved to a job at the Central Conference of Seventh Day Adventists in San Jose, CA.
After the kids were grown she moved to Oregon. There she took an art class and became a wonderful painter. She started a small hobby store that had art and hobby supplies, stamps, and local crafts. She also worked for years in a doctor's office doing billing and office work. As well as being a hard worker and an entrepreneur she had a lifelong hobby that she loved, of collecting stamps. She became the head of a national singles group for Adventist Singles over 50. She was always thrilled to see people in the club marry until one day she got a call from a prospective member. She wondered who she could introduce him to but their conversations got longer and longer. He was just too nice. This one she ended up keeping for herself. Martha and Merrill were married in April 2002.
Martha was a lifelong member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. She worked for years as her local church's public relations person. She wrote many articles for the paper about the happenings of the church.
Martha was preceded in death by her loving husband, Merrill Chaffin; parents, John and Mary Harder; brothers, Irwin and Paul Harder; sisters, Elsie Kripps and E. Jessica Saxton; son in law, Joseph McKennee; grandsons, Joseph "Scott" McKennee and Aaron Romstad.
She is survived by her children, Steven (Debbie) Kirtley, Marcia (Paul) McKennee, and Rhonda Kirtley (Arne) Romstad; grandchildren, Rebecca Kirtley, Kerri Nation, Erin (Adam) Gintz, Charity Romstad, and Melysa, Grace, and Journi Romstad; great grandchildren, Mikayla Nation, Schyler (Miranda) Nation, Schyler, Lacy, and Jewel Gintz, Kailee, and Lily Romstad; great great granddaughter, Jesse; as well as three of her siblings, Esther Belchunus, Ida Caine, and Fred Ruth) Harder.
Martha never lost her faith in God and will certainly be waiting to see us in heaven.
A celebration of life will be held at the Fairmont Seventh Day Adventist Church, on July 25.
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Published by Lodi-News Sentinel from Jul. 17 to Jul. 24, 2021.