Former Corrales municipal judge and bilingual educator Martha Cushing died Dec. 7, days before her 80th birthday.

She was in an assisted living facility in Rio Rancho after being hospitalized for a broken hip and other injuries sustained in a recent fall at her home in Corrales where she had lived since 1976. Martha and brother Jeffrey were born in San Francisco to Richard and Nancy Cushing; after serving as an Associated Press correspondent during World War II, her father began a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. Martha’s early years were spent in Chile, Cuba, Washington D.C. and Mexico. In those teen years, Martha was a sensation on Cuban television demonstrating the jitter-bug dance and extolling rock-and-roll music.

She started college in Mexico City and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin where she met the first of three husbands. She married Chet Taylor in a diplomatic setting in Caracas, Venezuela, where her parents were stationed for five years. After that marriage ended, she met and eventually married a U.S. Fulbright scholar in Venezuela, journalist Jeff Radford, in 1970 when he was with the Associated Press in New York City. Their son, Benjamin Radford, was born in Manhattan. The young couple, with newborn, drove the entire Panamerican Highway to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to take up a journalism fellowship awarded by the Interamerican Press Association.

After the fellowship, they moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where she was hired as administrator for the Aga Khan School’s early education program. Returning to the United States, they settled in Corrales where she worked briefly as administrator for the Corrales Police Department. That led to her election as municipal judge in 1979. In that capacity, and as an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, she performed many marriages in Corrales. Later she was hired as an administrator for the University of New Mexico’s Latin American programs. 

Martha was integral to founding Corrales Comment which started in the couple’s home in 1982. For many years, she wrote the “Español a la Marta” column and offered Spanish language classes. She also worked as a seasonal UPS driver delivering from the hub in Albuquerque. She was assigned to “the Canyons” route where younger (and male) drivers feared to go, drawing on her intrepid experience years earlier crossing the rugged Andes range four times in their Jeep pickup. She was hired as a bilingual educator for the U.S. Social Security Administration in Albuquerque from which she retired. Several years after her marriage to Jeff Radford ended, she reconnected with, and was briefly wed to, Floridian Michael Ferrell, a boyfriend from her days in Cuba.

Known for her rebellious nature, Martha was an activist opposing the war in Vietnam and member of Another Mother For Peace. “She was a free spirit who believed in community,” brother Lincoln Cushing said. “She introduced me to being a student activist. She was the big sister who was exploring the world. She was a role model to me.”

A birthday party in absentia was planned for Sunday mid-afternoon, Dec. 18 in the labyrinth she created at her home on Rincon Road.

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