Obituary: Martha Falcone, Berlin | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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Obituary: Martha Falcone, Berlin 

click to enlarge Martha Falcone
  • Martha Falcone

Martha Isabelle Wakefield Falcone died at the Berlin Health and Rehabilitation Center in Barre, Vermont at age 101 after a bout with pneumonia. The daughter of Dr. Arthur Paul Wakefield and Olive Lindsay Wakefield, Martha was born in Luchowfoo China (modern Hefei) where her father ran a medical clinic. Martha attended grade school in Wuchang China (modern Wuhan) after Dr. Wakefield took the position of college doctor at Boone College. In the winter of 1926-27, when Martha was 11, Wuchang was under siege from Nationalist troops. Ultimately all Americans were ordered out of Central China for their safety. With her family, Martha made her way over the walls of the Old City to a waiting US gunboat that took them downriver to Shanghai and safety.

Martha was a niece of Vachel Lindsay, the prairie poet and troubadour of Springfield, IL. Her Uncle Vachel dedicated his poem “There was a Little Turtle That Lived in a Box” in 1917 to Martha when she was two years old. At that time Martha was on a furlough from China with her family, staying then at her grandparents’ house in Springfield.

Martha graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1937. After college, she studied at the Yale Drama School and at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, a center for spiritual retreats and Quaker activism. While at Pendle Hill she lived communally with friends and provided housing for federal prisoners who had completed sentences, often for conscientious objection to war. One such parolee was August Falcone whom Martha met and married on April 6, 1946. Following their wedding at Pendle Hill, they moved to East Randolph, Vermont and Springfield, Massachusetts where August found work as a tool-and-die fabricator. For many years, they maintained a home on Tunbridge Road in East Randolph which initially lacked running water or indoor plumbing. The East Randolph house had a lovely view but required a very great deal of work.

In 1947, August accepted an assignment with the American Friends Service Committee to maintain and repair ambulances in Central China. So Martha returned once more, this time to Changsha. Martha and August moved to Wuchang prior to the birth of their first child, Florence or Hsiao-ti (Chinese for “little one”) in 1947. Twin daughters, Docie and Ah-Li (Dorothy and Eleanor) were born in Wuchang in November 1948. Following their return to the United States in 1949, the three girls were joined due to the birth of Martha’s only son Paul (Frederick) in 1950 and in 1955 with the birth of their fourth daughter Naomi in Hartford, Connecticut. Martha and August separated in 1968 and divorced subsequently with Martha finding gratifying work for many years as a Head Start teacher in Hartford, Connecticut. She continued to spend summers in East Randolph.

Martha leaves three children: Ah-Li Monahan (Lois Burnett) of Minneapolis, Naomi Winterfalcon (Madeleine Winterfalcon) of Bristol, Vermont and Paul Falcone of Montpelier, Vermont. She was predeceased by Hsiao-ti Falcone of Berkeley (CA) and Docie Woodard of Burlington (Linda Beal). She also leaves behind six grandchildren: Brie Monahan of Minneapolis, and Sarah Woodard (Liam Flynn) and Nat Woodard (Gretchen Verplanck) of Burlington, VT, Kaye Winter of Montpelier, Vermont, and Jaime and Anica Falcone-Juengert of Albany, California, five great-grandchildren, three nephews, three grand-nephews and many dear friends.

A memorial will be held at a later date.

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