Martha J. Herrick, 89, Topeka, passed away Friday, April 2, 2021 at Homestead of Topeka. Ms. Herrick taught in the Topeka schools from 1953-1993, one year at Curtis Junior High School and 39 years at Topeka High School where she taught sophomore, junior and senior English, Humanities, Stagecraft, Acting, and - after Gertrude Wheeler's retirement - served as Chair of the Theatre Department and directed over 110 productions.
She was born in Kansas City, Kansas, the daughter of Arthur A. and Ethel V. Herrick. Although her early years were spent in New Jersey, when her family returned to Kansas, she attended Roosevelt Junior High School and graduated from Topeka High School in 1949, one of four class members who received superior scholastic honors. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Washburn University and a master's degree in Theatre from the University of Denver. She acted professionally in Denver and in Central City, Colorado.
Ms. Herrick was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, NONOSO, Alpha Phi, The Travelers Club, and several educational organizations. She served on the Topeka Civic Theatre Board, also acting and directing there. She served on the planning committee for TPAC.
Teaching was her life and many honors marked Ms. Herrick's career including Young Topeka Teacher of the Year on the secondary level in 1964; Topeka Teacher of the Year,1984, the Topeka High School Hall of Fame, 1993, the Association of Kansas Theatre's Lifetime Achievement Award, 1987, and Washburn University's Distinguished Service Award, 1999. A theatre scholarship bearing her name was established for THS theatre students in 2000 through the Topeka Community Foundation.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Dr. David E. Herrick, sister, Dorothy H. Slemmons, and long-time friend, Patricia H. Harris, MD.
At her request, Ms. Herrick was cremated and no services are scheduled. Private burial will be in Kansas City at a later date. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Martha Herrick Theatre Scholarship, c/o the Topeka Community Foundation; Topeka Civic Theater and Academy; the Washburn University Foundation (Theatre Department); Helping Hands Humane Society; or the charity of the donor's choice.
Martha wants us all to remember these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
To laugh often,
To win the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics,
And endure the betrayal of false friends,
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a little bit better,
whether by a healthy child or a garden patch,
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived...
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