Martha left her earthly body on November 13, 2023, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with family by her side. She lived a robust and courageous 92 years. Dementia took much away from Martha in recent years, but she maintained her dignity and sweet spirit to the very end.
Born in Burlington, Iowa, “Martha Lee” was the daughter of Raymond and Ruth Wright and younger sister of Mary Helen (Rather). Martha’s life was forever marked by the loss of both her mother and elder sister to breast cancer in 1944 and 1963 respectively.
Martha graduated from the University of Iowa in Social Work in 1952. A descendant of Iowa pioneers, Martha ventured further west to Denver, Colorado in 1953, where she met the love of her life (Gareth “Cy” Tanner) while working in the same office at Continental Oil Company. They eloped in 1956 just days prior to his job transfer to Billings, Montana. Always up for an adventure, Martha embraced Cy’s additional transfers to Casper, Wyoming and Houston, Texas before they returned to Billings in 1961 and settled there to raise a family.
Wherever she went, Martha eagerly cultivated friendships through a variety of avenues, from volunteer organizations like P.E.O. and Junior League to a gourmet cooking club or Bible study group. Outdoor activities including walking, biking, tennis and golf were all beloved avocations. She became part of a local church community wherever she lived.
Martha found her greatest joy in her roles as wife, mother to three daughters and homemaker. Mealtime was something to look forward to in her home! And if not creating something in the kitchen, Martha was often found downstairs in her sewing room immersed in a project. Affectionately called “Marsh” by her three sons-in-law, she was known for her warm hospitality, kind-heartedness, and genuine nature.
Starting in 1995, Martha and Cy spent the winters in Rio Verde, Arizona, enjoying new and old friends, playing golf and hosting their extended family for vacations. In 2013 they moved to Denver to be near family, spending their remaining years at the Vi at Highlands Ranch retirement community where they built more new friendships with both residents and staff. The family wishes to express their deep appreciation to the employees at the Vi Care Center for the outstanding personal care, love and compassion given to Martha and Cy.
Martha was preceded in death by her husband, Gareth “Cy” Tanner in December of 2022, after 66 years of marriage. Her legacy of love will live forever in the hearts of her children and grandchildren: daughters Jill Tanner Bell (Mark) of Fort Collins,CO, Betsy Tanner Joyce (John) of Centennial,CO, Carol Tanner Madison (George) of Arlington, VA; grandsons Nate Bell, Tanner Joyce, Johnny Joyce, Peter Joyce, Zach Madison and granddaughters Rachel McCubbin, Abby Bain and Hannah Madison, along with 14 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org; Susan B. Komen Foundation, www.komen.org; Junior League of Billings, P.O. Box 22252, Billings, MT 59104; or Loving Haiti, a nonprofit founded by granddaughter Abby Bell Bain, 7224 Brittany Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525.
A memorial service will be held on December 28 at 3 p.m. at the Vi at Highlands Ranch