Oct. 18, 1919 – Sept. 26, 2016
Laura Marie Martin of Buffalo, longtime music instructor in the Williamsville School District who was active in community music circles, died Monday in her Buffalo home. She was 96.
Born in Niagara Falls and raised in Sanborn, the former Laura Ferchen graduated from Niagara Falls High School, studied at Houghton College, earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in music education from the University of Buffalo. After graduating from Northwestern, she taught music in Detroit and returned to Buffalo in 1948, when she married Harry T. Martin.
For more than 60 years, Mrs. Martin was considered a role model for women balancing family, work and music and, according to those she mentored, she was known for her graciousness, enthusiasm and energy in personal and professional relationships.
Mrs. Martin taught general music and girls chorus in the Williamsville School District for 20 years, retiring in 1980. For several years, she led the Middle School Girls Chorus to performances in Williamsburg, Va.
For many years she was the soprano soloist at Central Park United Methodist Church and was active in Wednesday Morning Musicale. She was a member of the Chromatic Club and a charter member and province officer of the Buffalo Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, the international music fraternity. She also was a member and two-term president of the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo, and a member and president of the Chautauqua Opera Guild.
After retirement, Mrs. Martin purchased a home on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution, where she was inspired to solve a problem by a lecturer’s message that yesterday’s solutions are inadequate for the present. From this, she helped attract new members to Chautauqua despite soaring interest rates that stymied affordable housing there.
She is credited with devising a novel style of ownership and finance, and with the help of an architect she recruited, designed and built the first owner-occupied, self-financed condominium on the Institution grounds. The success of the first led to the construction of two more condominiums, which helped the Institution add members sharing in a commitment to education and the arts, while maintaining the architectural aesthetic.
Her husband of 67 years died in 2015.
Survivors include a daughter, Martha Malkiewicz; two sons, Leigh and Glen; nine grandchildren; and two great-granchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Nov. 12 in Central Park United Methodist Church, 216 Beard Ave.