Martha Monroe Donnenwirth was born in Woodland, Ca. on October 16, 1935, and she lived an active and adventure-filled life until she died on May 12th, 2021. Martha’s parents were James W. Monroe and Lucille Nurse Monroe. Martha grew up on a beautiful ranch in the foothills of Capay Valley in Yolo County along with her parents and sister Nancy and brother Jim. Martha loved her youth and freedom spent on the ranch and she loved the close-knit relationships that she shared with her many cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends. She attended grade school in a one-room schoolhouse in the little town of Capay and went on to attend high school in nearby Esparto. Martha loved playing tennis and other sports in high school, was a cheerleader, and was active in many extracurricular clubs. After graduation from high school, she attended and graduated from Chico State College with a Liberal Arts degree and a teaching credential in the mid-1950s. It is at Chico State where she met the love of her life, Ray Donnenwirth. Ray also graduated from Chico State with a teaching credential. Martha and Ray were married during Martha’s senior year at Chico.
Martha and Ray spent one year in Red Bluff for Ray’s first teaching position, and welcomed the birth of their twins, Steve and Nancy, that same year. The following year Ray and Martha moved to Ray’s hometown of Portola, Ca. to advance Ray’s education career, where they soon welcomed the birth of their third child, Lorrie. Martha stayed home to raise their children but also worked as a substitute teacher, a substitute school librarian, and a remedial reading teacher. When their children were older, she worked at and thoroughly enjoyed being a sales clerk for 18 years at Ayoob’s Department Store on the Main Street of Portola. Martha and Ray and kids also spent many a summer traveling by car across the country to live in university housing for Ray’s academic institutes. Most holidays throughout the years were enjoyed on the ranch of Capay Valley with Martha’s relatives.
In retirement, Martha got to return to her tennis matches on the Portola and Graeagle courts with friends, go on picnics and hikes and bird watching in the beautiful Sierras, get her toes wet on the beaches of California, Oregon, and the Hawaiian Islands, travel abroad and closer to home, volunteer at the Eastern-Plumas Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop, enjoy books with her book club, frequent cousin parties, spoil her kitties, and spend the majority of her time with Ray and her kids and grandkids all over California.
As the saying goes, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” Martha’s sense of adventure and independence from being raised on a ranch remained with her all of her life. Martha will be buried in the Capay Cemetery beside her parents and Ray in the beautiful country where she grew up. Martha is survived by her children, Steve Donnenwirth (Claire), Nancy Donnenwirth Cavagnaro (Paul), and Lorrie Donnenwirth (Andre). She is also survived by her 7 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, and by her many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Martha was loved by all who knew her best. She was 85. At Martha’s request, there will be no service.