Martha M. Webster, a former reporter for The Baltimore Sun and The Evening Sun, died May 5 from congestive heart failure at Heron Point Retirement Community in Chestertown. She was 95.
Martha Alice Millspaugh was born in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of M. Laurence Millspaugh, an executive, and Elizabeth Park Millspaugh, a civic leader.
She was related to the proprietors of Samuel Kirk & Son, a family-owned silver manufacturing company, and her family moved to Roland Park in 1932 when her father was named president of the firm. Samuel Kirk & Son was the oldest silversmith company in the U.S. It merged in 1979 with the Stieff Co. and became Kirk-Stieff Co., remaining in business until 1999.
After graduating in 1941 from the Bryn Mawr School, she attended Vassar College and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated there in 1944.
During World War II, she joined the American Red Cross. She was sent to Italy in 1945 and worked in clubs in Naples, Leghorn, Milan and Rome as a staff assistant, and later as program director providing social service and recreation programs for American soldiers waiting to be shipped back to the U.S.
When the war ended, Mrs. Webster remained in Europe as a Fullbright Scholar and studied at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. There, she stayed in the apartment of Janetta Somerset, a correspondent for The Sun.
In 1947 she returned to Baltimore and joined The Sun, writing features and a radio column. She also wrote a ladies’ club column for the Sunday Sun society page. She later joined the Evening Sun as a reporter.
In 1951, she married Bayard Webster, who was an Evening Sun assistant city editor.
After leaving the newspaper, she joined the Baltimore City Health Department and served as an administrator for what was called the Baltimore Plan of Housing Rehabilitation, one of three components of the national urban redevelopment movement created through the Housing Act of 1954.
Mrs. Webster and her husband moved in 1957 to Allendale, N.J., when he became an editor and writer on the New York Times science desk.
She raised the couple’s three children and volunteered with the New Jersey Audubon Society and the Fyke Nature Association. She also volunteered at her children’s schools.
Mrs. Webster and her husband moved to Heron Point Retirement Community in 1993, where she organized lectures for the Chestertown community on politics and election issues and edited a quarterly publication, “Heron’s Beak.”
She was an avid bird watcher who traveled across the country and world in pursuit of her hobby.
Her husband died in 2000.
A memorial service was held May 12 at Heron Point.
She is survived by two sons, Kirk Webster of Middlebury, Vt., and Anthony Coates Webster of Jersey City, N.J.; a daughter, Jacqueline Webster Harwood of Bethesda; and two grandchildren.
— Frederick N. Rasmussen