February 27, 1958 - August 3, 2013
Obituaries » MARTHA M. KETCHAM
KETCHAM, MARTHA MARY, 55, of Northfield, died August 3, at Central Vermont Medical Center. She was born in Burlington on February 27, 1958, the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth (Gee) Ketcham. Martha was born with Down syndrome in the days before special education and other supports for children with special needs were in place. She was given a life expectancy at birth of about six months, and it was recommended that she be institutionalized. Instead, her parents brought her home, where there were already six children under eight years old. Martha struggled at first, weighing about the same on her first birthday as she did at birth. Against all odds and with the love and support of her parents, brothers, sisters, grandmother, doctors and friends, she overcame her early difficulties, grew, and flourished. Martha returned the love in many ways. Although she never learned to speak, she understood everything that was happening around her, and was intuitively aware of the feelings of those around her. No matter how sad or upset you were, Martha was always there with a hug, a “high-five,” and a smile. Martha lived with her family in Essex Junction until she was 16, then “went away to school,” first to the Brandon Training School, then to a group home in Barre. Since the late ’80s, Martha lived in Northfield, first with Kim and Marty Daniels, then with Mary and Reggie McGrath. As an adult, Martha learned sign language, allowing her to communicate with others. She was a volunteer at Central Vermont Medical Center, worked at Washington County Community Development Services, Northfield High School Library, and enjoyed swimming at the LaGue Inn Pool swim program. Martha is survived by her caregivers, Reggie and Mary McGrath of Northfield; her siblings, Stephen of Milford, Mass., David of Mapleville, R.I., Timothy of Ballston Lake, N.Y., Jonathan of Glassboro, N.J., Christopher of North Clarendon, Sarah Foos of Phoenix, Ariz., Ellen of Essex; 14 nieces and nephews, two great-nephews and one great-niece; sisters-in-law, Jorja, Cyndie, Louise, Kathy, Pam; and many friends.