The White River Valley Herald

Martha Wiencke



Hanover, N.H.—Martha Heath Wiencke, 90, passed away on December 7, 2020, at Kendal at Hanover.

Martha was born on June 9, 1930, in Dedham, Mass., to Clark W. and Katharine Calef Heath. She attended Milton Academy, and earned an A.B. in classical archaeology with honors from Bryn Mawr College in 1952. She went on to complete a PhD in archaeology at Yale in 1957 and studied at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece, as a Fulbright scholar.

She married Matthew I. Wiencke on September 6, 1958, in Medford, Mass. They moved to Thetford Center, Vt., in 1960, raised four children there, and traveled widely in Greece, Europe, and the United States, often with the family.

Early in her career, she joined a team of archaeologists working at Lerna, one of the most important prehistoric sites in Greece and said to be the place that Hercules slew the nine-headed Hydra. Excavations at the House of the Tiles at Lerna, where an unusual collection of Bronze Age seals was discovered, became her life’s scholarship. She served as editor of publications for the project and wrote “The Architecture, Stratification, and Pottery of Lerna III,” published in 2000.

She taught Latin, German, and French at Thetford Academy and Latin at Dartmouth. During her 16 years at Kendal, she tutored Jessica Londa in Homeric Greek and Latin every Wednesday. She was also vice president of the Thetford Historical Society, where she did extensive archiving of early town records.

She was an avid reader of mysteries, 19th-century novels, Proust, and biographies. She loved flower gardening and never failed to find the lady’s slippers on her family’s property each spring.

Music and art were always important. She enjoyed concerts at Tanglewood and played violin in string quartets and in the Kendal orchestra. She learned watercolor painting from her grandmother and sketched throughout her life, particularly on Cape Cod, where she spent summers as a child.

She was a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hanover, N.H., where she sang in the choir for many years and played violin.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Matt; and is survived by her son, Lawrence Wiencke and daughter in-law Denise Noda of Golden, Colo.; daughter, Katharine Wiencke of Hancock, Mass.; daughter, Charlotte and son-in-law Gil Varney Jr. of Atlanta, Ga,; son, Matthew Wiencke and daughter-in-law Christine Neely-Jones of Thetford, Vt.; grandchildren: Meilin Noda Wiencke, Gregory and Jacob Varney, and Christian and Elliott Jones; sister, Emily Wilson of Fairfax, Va.; brother, Clark Heath of Woodbine, Ga.; brother, Everett Heath of Lynchburg, Va,.; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The family extends its heartfelt appreciation to the Kendal staff for their loving care.

A private family service and burial will be held on December 11. A memorial celebration will take place at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Thetford Food Shelf, P.O. Box 126, Thetford Center, Vt. 05075; or to Lutheran World Relief (