Martha Treworgy Harris, 68
GORHAM -- Martha Treworgy Harris, an extraordinary friend, local businesswoman and Gorham community leader, died on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at the age of 68, from complications following chemotherapy.
Born on May 5, 1944, Martha lived her entire life in Gorham, the town she loved. She was raised on Flaggy Meadow Road at the family estate currently occupied by her sister and affectionately dubbed 'the Farm.' In her life she brought passion, enthusiasm, energy and happiness to a town that will miss her dearly.
A natural born athlete, Martha spent much of her childhood outdoors doing everything from playing sports to climbing trees. She rode her bicycle everywhere and was always happiest with a baseball in her hand. An organizer of nightly baseball games from the time she could hold a bat, she was the best first baseman in town and could throw a ball just as good - if not better than - all the boys in the neighborhood. She even pushed her parents to let her try out for little league and the boys' high school team even though no girl ever had.
At the age of 14, Martha underwent treatment for scoliosis, leaving her bedridden in a full body cast for her entire freshman year of high school. She spent the year surrounded by animals, keeping rabbits and cats in her room, often to her family's chagrin. The day after the cast was removed, she got on her bike and rode around the neighborhood, completely undeterred by her injuries. She was the consummate tomboy. She could shoot a BB gun and was an avid collector of baseball cards. She even refused to wear a dress to school until forced to by a high school dress code, and then just wore pants underneath.
After graduating from Gorham High School in 1962, Martha spent one year at Kents Hill Prep School, before moving on to University of Maine at Orono. She left school to start a family with Eric M. Pettengill, and the pair had two daughters, Robyn and Jennifer. When her girls were no longer babies, she returned to finish college, graduating with a Bachelors of Education from University of Southern Maine.
Martha used her degree as an educator at the Eliza Libby School in Buxton, serving as both a first and fourth grade teacher before eventually becoming the school's principal. On one occasion, she was called outside during recess to take a loaded gun away from a child who was trying to show off his dad's weapon. Martha calmly unloaded the gun while the other teachers looked on horrified. For years after leaving education, she would laugh while recalling the antics of her favorite troublemakers.
In 1979 Martha remarried. In her new family with Robert H. Harris, she became stepmother to three - Karen, Scott and Debbie - and made bonds with an extended family that quickly became very dear to her heart. Her years with Bob, raising her daughters, were filled with very active mothering, and her loving presence in her daughters' worlds was one their childhood friends still remember with fondness. Affectionately referred to as 'Martha T,' she spent many hours on the sidelines of her daughters' sporting events capturing images with her beloved camera, making every high school athlete in town feel like a star.
After teaching, Martha worked as a realtor at Harnden Realty in
Martha Treworgy Harris
76 State Street, Gorham
South Portland before discovering her passion for photography and deciding to make it a full-time career. She spent the rest of her life as a reliable presence at all Gorham sports, capturing each moment from behind the lens of the camera. She photographed thousands of events and would often give away her exceptional photos to their subjects. She captured and shared all the gifts of this world - flowers, sunsets, beautiful moons, and especially the joy of her loving family.
Photography took Martha on many adventures both within and beyond the town of Gorham. Supporting a church fundraiser, she was once hoisted to the top of the First Parish Congregational steeple where she took photos from the 'bird's eye view' of the town. She spent many springs in St. Petersburg, Fla., photographing Red Sox spring training camps for the American Journal. This in turn, led to stints covering the Celtics and with the ability to get up close, she was able to meet many of her heroes, including Boston-sports icons like Jim Rice, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. One of her favorite memories was being on the field of Fenway Park in Boston photographing the Old Timers Games, where she got a chance to meet stars whose images she cherished on baseball cards as a child. This included one very special occasion in which Martha met Red Sox legend Ted Williams. A photo taken of the two of them stills hangs proudly in her home. In addition to photographing athletics, she spent many years documenting weddings, recording high school musicals,
taking high school senior portraits and cataloging special events for thousands of people.
Martha was the family historian and organizer of countless family events. She was an ardent defender of family traditions, none more important to her than Thanksgiving, when both of her siblings and all of their children would convene and play marathon games of Trivial Pursuit, Tripoly and canasta. July 4th was another favorite. She picked up a tradition started by her parents, hosting an annual family reunion along with her two siblings. Family members would come from all over the country - and even the world - to enjoy a potluck meal, play volleyball and reminisce. The family would then retire to their camp on Sebago Lake for more games, swimming and time around the bonfire. Her love of Sebago Lake and the lakeside property was the highlight of her summers throughout her life. She hosted yearly reunions for her friends from high school, 'The Gals of '62,' and spent many hours with her family and grandchildren.
In 1999, Martha started the greatest adventure of her life - being a grandmother. Affectionately referred to as 'Darma' by her four grandchildren, she was always up for an adventure, game of baseball, a musical, or a sing-along. There was body surfing the rapids of the Saco River,
climbing atop the cemetery stone-wall next to the Gorham House of Pizza, screaming along at the Patriots games and continuing to run the sidelines with cameras at more sporting events.Each of her grandchildren felt like an only grandchild when with their Darma.
Martha was passionate about her roles in the community, which included being a founding member of the Gorham Times and a staff photographer, a freelance photographer for the American Journal, an ASL interpreter volunteering in the Deaf community, a member of the Gorham Alumnae Association, the Gorham Historical Society, a Baxter Memorial library volunteer, a leader in the Gorham cancer support group (three years before her diagnosis), a founder of the Gorham WWII veteran remembrance events at Baxter Library, a GHS Sports Hall of Fame board member, an avid pinochle player (and group champion), and was awarded the Gorham Civic and Business Exchange 'Business Person of the Year' in 2005.
Most importantly, she was a dear friend to all. During the course of her life, she touched, connected with, loved, cared for and bonded with hundreds of people. She had a way of making every person she talked with feel important and she had true friends whose ages literally spanned decades. Whether 12 or 102, she considered all great friends. A quality that made people gravitate towards her. There was never a negative comment, a judgment or a criticism when you needed your friend Martha. She lived with her eyes wide open and mind always in the present. A childhood friend recently reflected that Martha was now in Heaven organizing a new neighborhood baseball team and we are all sure that she has recruited Ted Williams as her captain.
Martha was predeceased by her parents, Audway S. and Phyllis Lord Treworgy. She is survived by two daughters, Robyn and husband Dana Violette of Portland, and Jennifer and husband Jay Banks of Gorham; the loves of her life Jay and Jen's children, Jackson, Georgia, Griffin and Hudson Banks; her sister, Linda Treworgy Faatz of Gorham; John Treworgy and his wife Cherrie of North Carolina; and nieces and nephews, Sarah Treworgy, Nathan Fates, Hannah Treworgy Ekwere, Justin Faatz, Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Shalane Flanagan and Maggie Flanagan and their families.
There will be no visiting hours. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at 2 p.m., at the First Parish Congregational Church, 1 Church St., Gorham. A private burial is planned this spring at Eastern Cemetery, Main Street, Gorham. Arrangements are by the Dolby and Dorr Funeral Chapel, 76 State St., Gorham. For online condolences, please visit www.dolbyfuneralchapels.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family
suggests donations to two
organizations that Martha was active with and passionate about:
First Parish Congregational Church
1 Church St.
Gorham, Maine 04038
or the Baxter Memorial Library
71 South St.
Gorham, Maine 04038
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Mar. 1, 2013