d. Feb. 10, 2013
Martha Pamperin, a former teacher to visually-impaired students, died peacefully in her sleep Feb. 10, 2013, following a happy and active day that ended with one of her favorite activities – enjoying a musical performance with friends. She was 75 years old.
Martha was born to John and Helen Mangold in Long Beach. She studied English literature at Pomona College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree, and did postgraduate studies at Chicago Theological Seminary, where she met her future husband, John Pamperin. She received a master’s degree in education in computer access technology from Mississippi State University. She held special education teaching credentials from San Francisco State University.
Martha and John were married and moved to Davis in 1965, and adopted their daughter Claire in 1967. In Davis and Woodland, Martha taught multi-handicapped students and later, visually impaired students. After her retirement from the Yolo County Office of Education in 1997, she became an instructor for the Hadley School for the Blind, teaching Braille online to newly blinded adults. Throughout her career she was a prominent member of the Braille Authority of North America, most recently serving as chair of the committee to recommend revisions of the Universal Braille Code.
Martha lived with multiple medical conditions her whole life. Born with visual impairment that progressed to complete blindness, she developed lupus as a young woman, and had a heart attack at age 35, which was followed over the years by progressive heart disease, kidney and knee problems. She endured multiple surgeries. In 1996, she took decisive action to treat the disease of alcoholism and helped numerous women over the years in their recovery from the illness as well. Martha’s skillfulness and grace in living with chronic illness and disability were an inspiration to all who knew her. She was a living model of the intention to accept the things she could not change, to change the things she could, and to cultivate wisdom to know the difference.
In 2000 Martha moved to the University Retirement Community, where, characteristically, she quickly became both actively involved and much-loved. She joined the meditation group, started the URC’s weekly 12-Step recovery meeting, and was a member of the Health Services Committee, advocating in particular for the mental health service needs of URC residents.
Martha was known as a fun-loving companion and insightful conversationalist, whose infectious laugh brightened an entire room. Time spent with her grandchildren was a special joy; she loved talking about theatre and horses with Catherine and baseball and learning Spanish with Andrew. She loved the life of the intellect and enjoyed discussions of literature, current events and philosophy with friends. Her searching, inquisitive nature led her to an eclectic range of reading, from James Thurber to Thich Nhat Hanh, from The New York Times to Lao Tzu to the science fiction and mystery novels she relished. She enjoyed cryptograms, puzzles, and card games. Music was a constant accompaniment to her life, ranging from folk music to ragtime and Mozart. Friends enjoyed seeing her walking about town, and later the URC, always accompanied by her guide dog until the retirement of her last dog, Laney, in 2011. As a lifelong spiritual seeker she became a committed student of Buddhism, attending meditation retreats and workshops throughout California.
Martha was preceded in death by her parents and by beloved guide dogs Visto, Nepal and Rue. Survivors include daughter Claire Grindall and her husband Bill of Davis; grandchildren Catherine and Andrew; brother Phil Mangold of Castro Valley; former husband and good friend John Pamperin of Davis; retired guide dog Laney; and many dear friends.
A Celebration of Life will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the University Retirement Community, 1515 Shasta Drive. Friends are invited to post their favorite Martha stories at http://martha.pamperin.muchloved.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Guide Dogs for the Blind, Donations Dept., P.O. Box 151200, San Rafael, CA 94912; to the URC Foundation, 1515 Shasta Dr., Davis, CA 95616; or to The Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093.