Martha De Keno passed peacefully at home, February 25, 2018, with family holding her hands listening to her favorite hymns. “It Is Well With My Soul” gently ushered Martha from the loving arms of her family into the loving arms of her Savior.
Her parents George and Gertrude Usselman, her sister Mable, and husband Richard precede her in death. She is survived by her daughter Marsha De Keno and son Ronald De Keno and wife Marlie De Keno. In addition, she’s survived by five beloved grandchildren, Rachel Theobald-Madrid and Andris Madrid, Gene and Tisha De Keno, Jason and Erin De Keno, Scott and Leah De Keno, and Heather Theobald, as well as thirteen great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters Lyndell, and Virginia and her husband, one brother-in-law, Glen De Keno and wife, and all her nieces, nephews, and many cousins.
In her early years, Martha earned a degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Education at Bethany College in Kansas. She taught art in junior high, high school, and junior college. After moving to Albuquerque in 1959, she went on to teach the lower grades in elementary school.
Martha came from New York to meet her husband Richard from California at a USO dance in Kansas City, Kansas. She worked as a lettering artist for Hallmark Cards and he was in the Army. They were married at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas before embarking on travels to Europe via the Military.
Martha exemplified a life of service. She volunteered and served for decades at Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church, United Blood Services, The Store House, and many other organizations. At the age of 78, Martha and her daughter went on a mission trip to Mexico to build a casita and clinic with her daughter’s church from Mesquite, TX. Martha mixed cement until directed to work with the nurses in the community center. Despite her age, she was willing to help anywhere.
Martha enjoyed traveling, reading, and singing. She traversed the United States and gallivanted overseas. Her journeys took her from Alaska to Europe. One her favorite past-times was to savor a cup of coffee immersing herself into adventures through books. She had a book with her at all times, in case there was an opportunity to read. Her love of music began at a young age singing with her sisters, much like the Andrew Sisters. She would start every day turning on the radio in the kitchen then making a pot of coffee. She would sing along with the oldies throughout the day. Then sing her praises to God with the church choir.
Martha loved her family. She spent many hours teaching the grandkids interesting facts. One of her favorites was teaching geography of the US and the World. Having been a tomboy most her life, Martha made sure the grandkids were active. She would say, “The mall is for walking not for shopping.” She would take the kids swimming to participate in her sport of choice. In her late seventies/early eighties, Martha took swimming to a new level and won gold medals for three years swimming the breaststroke while representing the state of New Mexico in the Senior Olympics. One year, she even won silver for softball.
Martha filled her life with happy noises. She would say things like “Bee-bop, Bee-bop” as she went through her day, singsong her pet birds’ names “Toooobyyyy” and “Peeeeeeperrrrrs”, and randomly burst out singing various songs ranging from “Three Little Fishes” to “Down in the Valley”. Later in life, she would add saying “Bargumpy” when someone passed gas.
Martha lead a life of humility leaving a legacy filled with joy and sacrifice. She will be greatly missed by all.
Please join her family in a celebrate of Martha’s life March 17th 11:00am at Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 8600 Academy Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111. All are welcome. Her family is encouraging everyone to dress casually and in bright colors. In lieu of flowers or other memorial contributions, her family asks that if anyone is lead to give, that they honor Martha’s memory by donating blood to United Blood Services or any other local blood bank.
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