Martha Louise McCune


GREENFIELD, Mass. - Martha Louise (Beers) McCune, 98, of Greenfield, Massachusetts, died at home on Aug. 2, 2019.
Martha was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, to Luther Lee and Anna May (Wilcher) Beers on Sept. 27, 1920.
She married John C. Neilson Jr. (deceased) on April 24, 1943. She married Millard (Mac) B. McCune (deceased) on Jan. 14, 1972.
She is survived by sons, John "Jack" C. Neilson III (Joanne) of Maryland and Thomas R. Neilson (Lynn Waldron) of Greenfield, Massachusetts; grandson, Jacob Neilson-Phillips (Lily Crockett) of Maynard, Massachusetts; granddaughters, Kimberly Frazier (Andrew) of Waterford and Nicole Neilson of Morris; great- grandsons, Nickolas and Alec Frazier; several nieces and nephews.
She is also predeceased by sisters, Dorothy Bonsper and Jeanne Birdsall; and grandson, Robert Lee Neilson.
Martha graduated from Newtown High School in Elmhurst, in 1939. She was a member of the National Honor Society and received academic awards. She played the violin in the orchestra, but was better known for her singing. She wanted to be a music teacher, but had no money for college so worked for the Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. and AT&T in Manhattan.
In 1947, the family moved from Middle Village, Queens, to Unadilla, buying the farm in Sand Hill. She did office work for Bendix in Sidney.
Martha joined the Sand Hill Methodist Church where she was organist until she was 90. An early initiative was to organize a church choir, primarily composed of children. She was a trustee of the church, secretary, treasurer, auditor, Sunday School superintendent and teacher,
but perhaps best remembered for her work with young people as Youth Fellowship Director, as well as her involvement with other children in the community. She is remembered by one of these children:
"What a woman! She had energy, love, direction, kindness, discipline and humor. In the Sand Hill choir, she taught us, accompanied us on the piano, picked us up at home and dropped us off. She made me feel important and interesting. She gave me a sense that we were contributing to something greater. Martha set an example of how to meet life's challenges. She made a new path for herself a couple of times over the years, always finding ways to give and give back. She strengthened community through her deeds. She also freely and directly gave advice. That took love."
When she moved to Otego in 1972, one neighbor commented that she and Mac were "surrogate grandparents for many kids who lived on Fair Street."
And from a niece, "She was such an inspiration. She gave me the greatest gift which was her time and attention. I was excited to play the same violin she played as a young girl. And never will I forget her climbing the big maple tree with us kids! She never lost her sense of humor which I loved!"
In 2003, Martha received the Otsego County Council on Aging's Service Award. Her life was committed to community service, exemplified in her later years by driving people to doctor appointments and other outings. She visited people at their homes or in nursing facilities, providing support and comfort.
One neighbor recalls, "My mother was able to enjoy many more happy moments due to Martha. Since my mother could no longer drive, Martha took her anywhere she wished to go, as well as listen to her talk and talk and talk. Martha was there to help the poor and sick, or whatever was needed by the less fortunate. She also tracked down the person who hit my mother's car."
Music was central to her life. She directed and sang in community choirs, particularly the Sidney Festival Chorus and acted with the Tri-Town Theater. Three weeks before her death she was still singing three-part harmonies and the day before she died, still mouthing the words to songs, telling Tom to "START OVER!" if there was a lull in the music.
Martha loved playfulness with language and was adorned with an endearing wit, a humor that would surface, often when playing Rummikub.
She was an accomplished gardener, growing her vegetables and flowers with intentionality. She loved having her hands in the dirt.
She was treasurer of the Otsego County Council of Churches; treasurer of Otego Historical Society; trustee of the Sand Hill Cemetery Association; and a member of the Spiritual Guidance Committee of Otsego Manor.
She was part of the Sand Hill sunshine baskets, community dinners, quilt and sleeping bag making and Jolly Nine. She was a drover on the last cattle drive in Sand Hill.
Martha had a commitment to social justice. In the 1980s she advocated for gay and lesbian rights within the structure of the National United Methodist Church. She supported the Citizens Awareness Network; Construyamos Juntos International Brigade in Nicaragua and the Green Party.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society, or Sand Hill Cemetery Association with a check to Sand Hill Cemetery, c/o Gloria Hall, 1497 Covered Bridge Road, Unadilla 13849.
A graveside gathering for family will be announced.
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Published on August 7, 2019
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4 posts

Bruce Colegrove
Sep 11, 2019
Tom, I so sorry to hear this. I know it was difficult for you and for her. Time is the great reliever. The good times will last forever, only the others will fade. Be happy my friend; she's at peace with her music.
Aug 31, 2019
A memorial tree was planted in memory of Martha Louise McCune.  Plant a tree
Rosemary Harageones
Aug 08, 2019
Miss Martha I am sure going to miss you. You have been an inspiration to me . I joined choir in school and church choirs whenever I moved around. Thank you for your love and for building up my confidence.
Praying for your family.
Sally Gray Hallman
Aug 08, 2019
Obviously an extraordinary woman. My sincere sympathies to her family & loved ones.