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Martha Butler Alworth
(August 3, 1925 - November 25, 2012)

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Martha Butler Alworth

Martha Butler Alworth, 87, of Duluth, passed away on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at her home.   Martha was born in 1925 in Los Angeles, CA, to Verda Meehan Butler and William Butler.  Her mother brought Martha and her sister Mary to Duluth in 1930. In 1938 they traveled to Europe where the sisters were educated in Switzerland and Italy.  On the eve of WWII, they were able to get one of the last staterooms on the final civilian voyage of the Queen Mary.  While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Hitler’s army marched into Poland and war ensued.   Upon returning to Duluth, Martha attended and graduated from Stanbrook Hall. After graduating from Smith College in 1947, she spent 2 years in post-war Europe. In 1949, Martha married Royal D. Alworth Jr. They remained in Duluth and raised 6 children.   Martha lived a life of purpose. She was a community and social activist and a voice for peace and justice. She loved Duluth and gave of herself in many ways.  Martha was honored to serve as one of the first lay trustees to the College of St. Scholastica Board.  She was named Trustee Emerita and in later years, endowed the Alworth Center for the Study of Peace and Justice.  Her interest in international affairs led her to establish the Royal D. Alworth Jr. Institute for International Studies at UMD to honor her husband following his death in 1987.   Martha was a long time supporter and board member of Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, League of Women Voters, Junior League, Building for Women, Grandmothers for Peace, and multiple City of Duluth civic and preservation committees. She valued the cultural offerings of Duluth including Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, Duluth Playhouse, and Marshall Performing Arts.  She received the Depot Foundation Arts and Culture Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.    Martha embodied “lifelong learning.”  She was a charter member of University for Seniors (originally Rusty Ladies) where she served on committees, and taught and attended classes for over 24 years.  She received their Confucius Award in 2009.   Martha traveled extensively, pursuing her endless curiosity of the world and its people. Duluth constantly impressed her with its international residents and their perspectives on subjects and issues. She was an early proponent of the Duluth Sister Cities program. She was passionate about electing people she thought represented her beliefs, both nationally and locally, even if it meant backing the underdog.    Martha loved Lake Superior. Summer picnics with family and friends on Park Point and the North Shore was her way to highlight this treasure in our backyard. Tennis was a huge part of Martha’s life and friendships with her tennis pals were as important as the game itself. She loved shoes and bright colors!   Martha was preceded in death by her husband Royal, Jr. (1987) and her grandson Peter Cooper (1994). Martha is survived by her sister Mary Butler Lanigan, her 6 children, Joan (Peter), Mollie, Royal III (Karen), Susan (Carl), Nicholas, Peter (Amy) and 10 grandchildren Colin (Karen), Sarah, Emily, Rachel, Mimi, Pierce, Anna, Lauren, Kelly and Nina and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.   CELEBRATION OF LIFE:  Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 1 pm at the DECC Harbor Side Ballroom, downtown Duluth.    Memorials may be directed to organizations and charities devoted to enriching the lives of the members of the Duluth community.


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