Martha O’Rourke Tanner – Putnam, Conn.

Martha O’Rourke Tanner – Putnam, Conn.

Martha Elizabeth Crosscup Pfeufer O’Rourke Tanner was born on June 13, 1932, in Newton, Mass., and passed away on April 18, 2020, in Putnam Conn., at the age of 88.

Martha was preceded in death by two sets of parents/step-parents, her father Richard Crosscup and step-mother Gwendolyn Bennett, and her mother Reed Champion Pfeufer and step-father James Pfeufer.

Martha’s life was filled with interesting stories that spanned legacies of the Great Depression, the Harlem Renaissance, the Atomic Age, the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Age and so much more. One in a zillion, one of the smartest women anybody could ever know, a real story-teller whose life, presence, and stories will be greatly missed.

Martha led an interesting life. An alumna of the University of Chicago, Martha married and divorced the late Thomas O’Rourke with whom she had four children, had a career in editing and publishing, and created and produced a magazine before she met the late Frank Tanner in 1960 and started a whole new adventure. She relocated to Foster, R.I., in 1962 with Frank Tanner with whom she had four more children. After Frank Tanner’s death, she met Frank Hall with whom she had much laughter and companionship, and equal interests in all things historical.

Among her varied careers, she ran an antique and collectibles business, worked as freelance writer and a reporter for The Observer, taught clerical skills, was a self-taught herbalist, ran for public office, and worked in the admitting office at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. Most importantly, Martha instilled in her children an avid love for education, nature, and the creative. Martha also instilled in her children a fierce level of resilience and independence. Martha was a lifelong champion for civil rights and social justice, and was known for her unending passion for political discourse. It would be remiss not to mention her extremely active imagination which was so much enjoyed and produced so many engaging conversations, memories, and beloved family stories.

Martha is survived by her partner, Frank Hall, of Danielson, Conn., her daughters Katherine of Calgary, Alberta, Suzanne of Waynesville, N.C., Audrey of Oakland, Calif., Cynthia of Nahant, Mass., and by her sons Kevin of Minneapolis, Minn., Frank of Falmouth, Mass., Eric of Los Angeles, Calif., and Jeffrey of North Scituate, R.I. She is also survived by 14 of her 15 grand-children and seven great-grand-children; two brothers Eric Pfeufer of Cambridge, Mass., and Joachim Pfeufer of Nantes, France; numerous nieces and nephews, and many extended family and friends.

A memorial gathering will be planned later. Contributions in honor of Martha’s life can be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.