Martha H. O’Connor, ‘town matriarch’ and former chair of state boards

BRATTLEBORO — Martha H. O’Connor, former chairwoman of a host of local and state governing boards, died Monday, September 2, 2019, at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H., at age 82.

The former Martha Elizabeth Hannum was born April 26, 1937, in Brattleboro, daughter of David and Rhona (Patterson) Hannum of Putney.

She graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 1955 and the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1959 before marrying former Vermont House Speaker Timothy J. O’Connor Jr. of Brattleboro July 8, 1961. The two celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary before his death Jan. 16, 2018.

The onetime elementary schoolteacher dedicated four decades to public service, including as chairwoman of the Brattleboro Select Board and Brattleboro Union High School Board, the Vermont State Board of Education, the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees and the Vermont Lottery Commission.

During that time she was selected as Citizen of the Year by both the Brattleboro Area and Vermont Chambers of Commerce and most recently received the Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees Award for Extraordinary Contribution, which noted “Martha’s passion for public education and the betterment of Vermont is reflected in a life of advocacy and service.”

The Brattleboro Reformer deemed O’Connor “town matriarch” in its headline reporting her death.

She is set to be honored by the New England Board of Higher Education with its Vermont Excellence Award Sept. 26 in Woodstock.

The family requests no flowers. Contributions may be made to the Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302.

Family Information

Survivors include a son, Kevin O’Connor of Brattleboro; two daughters, Kate O’Connor of Brattleboro and Kerry (Robert) Amidon of Vernon; three grandchildren, Daniel, David and Jacob Amidon of Vernon; and her feline companion, Valentino.