Martha Tiernan Hartke. A locally- and nationally connected mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunt has died. She was preceded in death by her husband, former U.S. Senator Vance Hartke. Her biggest love was her family, seven children, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Martha was just six weeks short of her 102nd birthday when she died at Shenandoah Assisted Living Center, Virginia.
Martha was very politically active her entire life. She met and had lunch with 15 First Ladies, starting with Eleanor Roosevelt, through Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Martha worked hard for many causes; she is credited with helping to save countless lives advocating kidney dialysis legislation through her work with the National Kidney Foundation. Martha worked for President John F. Kennedy when he appointed her chairwoman for the Freedom from Hunger initiative. She was a positive force with a dynamic personality.
She was born in Richmond, Ind., in 1920, where she was baptized at St. Andrew Catholic Church. She was the younger sister of her revered brother, Richard J. Tiernan, for whom Richmond’s Tiernan Center complex is named. For the last 19 years of her life, she was cared for by daughter Anita Hartke and grandson Wyatt Hartke. Her niece, Elaine Tiernan (Tom Wagner) of Richmond, Indiana, resided with the family in Falls Church, Virg., during summers of Elaine’s youth. Elaine also assisted in her care for the last 12 years. Her nephew, Patrick (Che’) Tiernan (Shelby, NC) visited her in her later years.
Martha was buried March 16, 2022, at Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband.