TOPSHAM — Elsa Neitzke Martz, 82, died peacefully at her home in Topsham on Nov. 22.
Martz was born in 1932, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Martha Beach Neitzke and Oscar Fredrick Neitzke. She graduated from Guilford College in 1953.
Martz resided for many years in Manchester, Massachusetts, where she was active with the town’s school system. A member of the Quaker meeting in Cambridge, she led a life of activism and volunteerism. She helped organize anti-nuclear protests in the 1970s, and volunteered her editorial and organizational skills to education reform initiatives for many nonprofit organizations.
She loved choral music, gardening and environmental conservation of wild places. In pursuit of her passion for photography, she traveled around the world, including destinations such as Tibet, India, Russia, as well as the western United States and the coast of Maine. Having attended summer camp in Small Point, she eventually returned to Maine and continued her work in education as administrative coordinator for the physics department of Bowdoin College.
Appreciating simplicity in all things and with a commitment to sustainable living, Martz designed and built a passive solar house on the New Meadows river near Cundy’s Harbor. Her home was featured in an article in Fine Homebuilding Magazine as a model of energy efficiency.
She later received the Art Longard Award from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment for her unflagging work and dedication to restoring the tidal flows around Dingley Island, through the construction of a bridge to replace an outmoded causeway. After seven years of her fundraising and partnership development, the community and Gov. John Baldacci celebrated the opening of Elsa’s Bridge on Oct. 1, 2003.
Martz subsequently turned her organizational and community skills to help rescue the Cundy’s Harbor working waterfront from real estate development. As a co-founder of the Holbrook Community Foundation, she helped raise $2 million to purchase, renovate and manage several properties that comprise the waterfront.
While living in Harpswell, Martz was inspired to collect and record oral histories of the community’s older residents. In 2010, she researched, edited and published these oral histories in “Cundy’s Harbor Voices: Memories of Growing Up in the Village.”
Martz was predeceased by a daughter, Barbara Ellis Martz.
She is survived by her brother, Frederic W. Neitzke, of Cincinnati; her daughter. Nancy B. Martz, of Gorham; her son, David B. Martz, of Manchester, Massachusetts; her son-in-law, Steven H. Parrot; and grandchildren, Elsie Parrot, Jacob Martz, Lucas Martz and Anika Martz.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in Martz’s name may be made to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, 3 Wade St., Augusta, ME 04330.