v26-3 Dear Friend

Vol. XXVI No. 3 - FALL 2015

By Kathy Gemperle

This summer we lost Martha Kraeger, one of the founding board members of the Edgewater Historical Society. Martha lived in Edgewater for many years with her husband John, and raised six children in their home on Wayne Avenue. From the beginning Martha was a community volunteer serving in the St. Ita’s Mother’s Club and then as a block rep in the Lakewood Balmoral Residents Council.

Martha was a real hands on person and never missed an opportunity to help in any activity. That is how she came to help me organize the first Edgewater tour of homes in 1986 in the Lakewood Balmoral area. Then, two years later, she was at the Library to attend the founding meeting of the Edgewater Historical Society, and volunteered to be on the first Board of Directors. No job was too small or too big for her energy and enthusiasm. Collating newsletters and packaging mailings were just opportunities to gather with some friends. One Saturday she went to an estate sale on Carmen Avenue and came back with an old album filed with our first collectible photographs of Edgewater.

Martha raised her family in Edgewater, and she was full of motherly wisdom. “Just remember if you have six children then you need room for 12 to go on any adventures in the city because each one wants to bring a friend along.” Martha was a lover of city life and city sidewalks. She and John could be seen riding bikes and walking everywhere. Martha and I enjoyed many rides along the lakefront with my youngest son in the baby seat going down to Addison and back, before the Kids Day Out Preschool let my daughter out.

When the Edgewater Historical Society was able to purchase the firehouse at Balmoral and Ashland, Martha and John were there to help chop down the weeds and clear the backyard. And later, when the contractor failed to do the work in the building, they pitched in to help remove broken plaster and clear the floors upstairs. Martha was always ready and able to help. Even when her memory was failing, she came to the museum to help with mailings and sorting news clippings.

As her health failed, she lead a more quiet life at home with John and her son Pat. Her children came for visits and helped John manage activities. Then this summer she took a turn for the worse. Her family surrounded her with love as she passed away peacefully. We all miss her; she touched so many lives.