Martha Anna (Alpert) (Batten) Kiely 1945-2023 of Wakefield, Mass. and Shapleigh, Maine.
After a long illness, Martha left this world peacefully, surrounded by her loving husband, Dave, and her children, Alison and Alex.
Martha was the daughter of the late Morris (Moe) and Melita (Molly) Alpert. She was the sister of the late Philip Alpert. She is survived by her husband, David Kiely, her son Alex Batten of Japan, his wife, Shinobu, and sons Hal and Hiro, her daughter Alison Marjanowski and her husband, Raf, and children Gabriel and Evelyn, her stepdaughters Andrea Lippman and her husband Nick and children Declan, Kiely and Cash, Katrina Kiely and her partner Jerry Bowser of Woburn and children Brendan and Colin Youmell, and Kendra Valluzzi and her husband Dan and children Dominic, Jake and his wife Matte Valluzzi (Matte was also Martha’s beloved caretaker in her final months), Caroline, Matt and Chris, sister Susan Lippman and her husband Bill of Stoneham, and her sister-in-law Cynthia Alpert of Highland Park, Illinois. She also leaves her niece Katherine Martha Scanlan and her husband Josh of Montreal, Que; her Nephew Gregory Alpert, his wife Karen, and children Zoey and Holden; her nephew Jeremy Alpert, all of Illinois. She is also survived by the father of her children, Rollas Batten, of Northampton, MA.
Martha entered the world in her own unique way, born in the back seat of a borrowed car in Trenton, NJ.
Her family lived in temporary GI housing in Dorchester, later moving to Hull, MA, and ultimately to Newton, MA. She was raised with her siblings, Philip (2 years her senior) and Susan (6 years her junior). As a young child, she struggled to learn to read until a second-grade teacher took notice, spending extra time after school to give her lessons and reinforce her self-esteem. This teacher’s care and attention planted the seed for a later emergence of a passion for teaching and early childhood literacy. She delighted in playing school with her younger sister Susan and her friends and was looked up to with awe by many younger neighborhood girls. She graduated from Newton South High in 1963 and went on to excel at UMass Amherst. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She got a job as an aide at the Angier Elementary School in Newton, where she discovered her gift for teaching and nurturing children.
In the late 1960s, she was drawn to aspects of the hippie movement that fought for women’s rights and civil rights, also condemning war and violence. In her hippie days, she spent the summer of love in 1967 in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, before hitchhiking back to UMass with Rollas Batten, her former husband. They moved to New Salem, Mass. She taught for two years in Erving Mass, then took a job at the Wildwood School in Amherst, a revolutionary school for its time with open classrooms and team teaching.
Martha’s extraordinary gift as a teacher caught the attention of Kent Lewis and Barbara Fischer, the director and managing principal of the Campus School at Smith College. In 1973 she took a job as lead teacher there and stayed for 20 years, ultimately becoming the supervising principal. In that role, she was a trusted mentor to both novice and veteran teachers, beloved by the faculty and students she led, and a creative and courageous teacher. During her years at the Campus School, she gave birth to her two wonderful children, Alexander Rollas and Alison Mara. She lived in Northampton, where her children attended the school she led.
In 1993 Martha moved to the Boston area. In 2001 she became a principal at the Downey School in Westwood, then at the Brackett School in Arlington, and finally, the Estabrook School in Lexington, from which she retired.
In the early 2000s, she went to a dance at the Knights of Columbus in Arlington, where she met David Kiely and began a love that lasted until her final days. They married in 2005 and spent many years of happiness at their homes in Arlington, Stoneham, and Wakefield. Much time was also spent at their magical Cillie Goose Cottage on Goose Pond in Shapleigh, Maine. The entire extended family gathered at this cottage every summer for a special time together. Martha and Dave were soulmates, and their love was the deep sort everyone should be so lucky to experience.
Martha also leaves behind a close-knit group of women friends who raised their families alongside each other. Later on, they met regularly and even traveled abroad together. The “Wilcoms” spent a long weekend every year at Cillie Goose Cottage, dancing and singing to Martha’s favorite Motown tunes while regaling in her lobster dinners and hilarious stories. The laughter, wisdom, and love they shared will remain in their hearts forever.
Her legacy lives on in the happy memories of her friends, family, and the many students and teachers she served: her kind words, her warm hugs, her bright smile, and her special brand of silliness that made everyone laugh and instantly feel at ease with her. She made friends everywhere she went. She had a knack for telling great self-effacing, entertaining, and hilarious stories. She made people around her feel safe and loved. And most importantly, she made the world a better place through her impact on the many children who came up through her schools.
Please join us to celebrate her life on Tuesday, May 30th, from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Woburn Country Club in Woburn, MA. Attire will be casual.
“Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you.”