Brattleboro - Martha Jane O’Brien Fenn, of Brattleboro and Center Sandwich, N.H., died unexpectedly at the age of 87 on July 26, 2017. She was an independent spirit who, to the end, continued to live in her own home for 56 years.
She was born in 1929 in Chiang Mai, Siam (now Thailand), the daughter of Dr. Henry Rust O’Brien and Mary Lou (Phillips) O’Brien. Dr. O’Brien was a medical missionary with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. She felt a strong connection to Thailand surrounding herself with treasured artifacts.
Marty was a graduate of Wethersfield (CT.) High School and Middlebury College, and she received a Master’s degree in Library Science from Simmons College. She was married to Giles C. (Jerry) Fenn in Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C. in 1955. He died in 1991.
She had been a staff member at Colby Junior College in New London, N.H. and Bennington College. She was medical librarian at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital since the Library’s establishment in 1970 until retirement in 2005. She served a wide range of area health care workers, nursing and medical students in research and education. During her 35 years she saw many changes in medicine and librarianship, from manual reference searching to computerization and automation of most functions. She was highly regarded and was a member of multiple health science library associations.
She was a long-time member of the Brattleboro Branch, American Association of University Women, serving as secretary, book sale and publicity chair, and president 2004-2008. Among other community activities, she and her husband were founding members of Planned Parenthood in Brattleboro.
An active and loyal member of Centre Congregational Church, Marty was a deacon, a member of the Endowment Committee and served in other roles. Genealogy and history were special interests. She belonged to the Connecticut Society of Genealogists and Sandwich, N.H. Historical Society. Her family valued her extensive research into family roots. She enjoyed water aerobics, book group discussions, summers in Sandwich, N.H. and travel to Sweden.
Her family were her pride and joy, including Brad Fenn of Hopkinton, MA and Brian Fenn of Lerum, Sweden, Grandchildren Jonas, Marcus, Lucas, Alysha and Jessica Fenn, sister and best friend Sue Bowman of Greenfield MA, brother Jim O’Brien of Somerville, MA, and brother-in-law Bruce Montgomery of Sandwich, N.H.
In September, a memorial service will be held at Centre Congregational Church, in Brattleboro and burial will follow in the Rural Cemetery, Center Sandwich, N.H., where seven generations of her husband’s family are buried.
Memorial gifts may be made to Centre Congregational Church Endowment Fund, the Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England or the Sandwich, N.H. Historical Society.
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