Martha “Marty” McLaren, a past West Seattle/South Park representative on the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, has died. Ms. McLaren, a Puget Ridge resident, was 76 years old. She was a longtime educator and community advocate, but her highest-profile role was that of board member. She won election in 2011 by unseating incumbent Steve Sundquist and then four years later was unseated herself by current board member Leslie Harris. We talked with Ms. McLaren after her election in 2011; she spoke of her teaching career following her involvement with advocacy as a PTA leader while her children were in school. More details on her life are in her obituary, which we’ve just received:
Marty McLaren (Martha Louise McLaren) lived from April 23, 1944, to March 13, 2021.
In Brooklyn, New York, Marty was born into the family of her mother, Marta B. McLaren, and US Naval officer William F. McLaren. She was the fourth of six children.
In early life, she lived on the east coast of the US, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the Mojave Desert, and San Diego, and moved to the Bangor Naval Base in Kitsap County at 14. When she was 17, the family moved to Seattle, where she lived most of her adult life. She was blessed with resources to graduate from the UW and had some interesting travels in her life, to Europe in 1967, to South America in 1969, and in 2002 to Ghana.
She was married for 17 years to Ted Kehl, and together they had four beautiful children — Catherine, Andrea, who died at 18 months, Lauren, and Samuel, who died in 2019 at 37. Motherhood and children became the most important and meaningful aspects of her life.
After her divorce, Marty earned a teaching credential. She taught preschool for several years, had an eye-opening 19-month stint at Family Services Homeless Children’s Network in the mid-’90s, and went on to teach middle- and high-school mathematics.
In 1994 she moved from the family home on Capitol Hill to the newly forming Puget Ridge Cohousing Association in West Seattle. Her cohousing community became an anchor and presence in Marty’s life. As the community grew and struggled to create itself, she also grew and found herself in fertile soil for developing and extending her interests and passions. Most important, she learned to cherish the opportunity to connect with others and understand them and herself more deeply.
She was moved to advocate strenuously for a return to “sane” math curricula in K12 schools, and her activism led to her running successfully for the Seattle School Board in 2011. She served on the board through 2015 with a deep commitment to students and to dismantling structural racism.
Marty loved to dance, to sing, to bicycle, and, in later years, to row crew. She was involved in various communities that fed her thirst for spiritual connection — including the Dances of Universal Peace, and the Somatic study of the Enneagram, and earlier, St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s parishes.
She dealt with cancer in 1987, 2013, 2018, and in late 2020, learning to join an attitude of acceptance with her passion to live authentically. She was blessed most abundantly with loving, caring friends and family, who held her with great tenderness to the end of her life.
She is survived by her daughters, her grandson Tracy, her brothers Jerome, William and Alfred, her sister Georgia, and her niece Scotti. Due to COVID restrictions, there will not be a formal commemoration.