Martha Odell Watkins, 90, passed away at the Baptist Home in Rhinebeck in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 28, 2019, listening to Dean Martin songs with her daughter by her side.
Born Martha Louise Klepatz on August 7, 1929 in New York City, she was the daughter of the late Oswald and Louise (Bloch) Klepatz. She grew up in Annandale, NY on the grounds of the Delafield estate farm of Montgomery Place, and graduated from Red Hook Schools in June of 1947.
On July 9, 1947 she married Louis Cramer Odell Jr. at the Methodist Parsonage in Red Hook, NY. They resided on Chestnut Street in Rhinebeck for 25 years, until Louis’s death in 1972. Martha raised their two daughters, and was active in the Rhinebeck Garden Club, the Northern Dutchess Hospital Mothers’ Club, Home Demonstration, and Girl Scout Troop leadership, while also working for years at Linville’s Old Gristmill Country Store across from the Fairgrounds.
On September 15, 1973, Martha married Ralph S. Watkins of Poughkeepsie at the Lutheran Church in Red Hook, NY. They divided their time between the Poughkeepsie area and Miami, Florida, until Ralph’s unexpected death on November 13, 1977. Martha moved back to Poughkeepsie, and pursued her artistic and creative talents by obtaining an AAS degree from Dutchess Community College in Recreation Leadership in 1979. She became an active member of the American Society of Craft Designers, attending conferences nationwide. She began a career with the Dutchess County Government, first working for The Office for the Aging, organizing activities and conducting workshops at local nursing homes and senior centers. In later years, she worked for the Dutchess County Transportation Department and the Office of Mental Hygiene as an Account Clerk Two, retiring in 1997.
Martha delighted in gardening her whole life, from her bountiful vegetable and flower beds in Rhinebeck, to her volunteer work at Vanderbilt Gardens, to her community garden patch at Vassar Farms in later life. She became a Master Gardener, and volunteered at the Cornell Cooperative Extension information booth at the Dutchess County Fair, and passed down her green thumb to her children and grandchildren. She loved to tour gardens everywhere.
Martha loved to travel, especially reconnecting with her father’s family in Germany, and she shared visits with them even before Germany reunited.
In recent years, Martha lived in local area apartments, cultivating “new families” at Coppola’s in Hyde Park and then at Interfaith Towers in Poughkeepsie, before moving to the Baptist Home. Their loving concern and support enabled her to live independently until the very end. We also thank the staff at the Baptist Home, who lavished Mom with attention and cared for her with genuine compassion. Dove Wing, in particular, is overflowing with Angels on Earth, especially their Unit Supervisor Maryann.
Martha was delighted to celebrate her 90th birthday with a surprise party at the Baptist Home in August, surrounded by family and friends who had traveled far to see her and share pictures and memories.
Martha was predeceased by husbands Louis Cramer Odell, Jr., and Ralph S. Watkins, as well as by her sister, Helen K. Saunders, and nephew William Saunders of Red Hook, both in 2015.
Martha is survived by her daughters Lynne Odell of Syracuse, NY, and Bonnie Odell Fulmer, and her son in law James Fulmer, of Rhinebeck, NY. She will also be missed by her only grand-daughter, Dr. Jessica Holzer, her husband Tom Goldenberg, and their daughter, Martha’s great granddaughter, Ainsley Goldenberg, of New Haven, CT. She is also survived by one niece, Sandra Saunders of Spring Hill Florida, and many loving cousins, nieces and nephews she treasured, including family in Germany.
Calling hours will be held at the Dapson-Chestney Funeral Home in Rhinebeck, NY on Saturday January 4, 2019 from 10 am – 1 pm.
A service will be held at the funeral home at 1 pm.
Burial will follow immediately in the Rhinebeck Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in honor of Martha to the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, 10 Childrens Way, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, the Dutchess County SPCA, 636 Violet Ave, Hyde Park, NY 12538, or to F. W. Vanderbilt Garden Association, Inc., www.vanderbiltgarden.org.
To send an online condolence, please visit www.dapsonchestney.com