MAYFIELD — Martha Nelson Thomas, 62, of Louisville, died Sunday, May 26, 2013, peacefully at home surrounded by family. She had been battling ovarian cancer.
Martha was a self-employed artist whose work emphasized the importance of families and the joy of childhood. She was one of the first people in this region to employ the technique known as soft sculpture. In the 1970s and ’80s her hand crafted doll babies were sold around the country and helped inspire the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Children and adults alike invited these dolls into their homes and corresponded regularly with Momma Martha.
Martha worked with children in schools and workshops, teaching them sewing, quilting and weaving while helping them find their own creative spark. Through her DELvelopment Foundation she helped fund art in schools and aided aspiring artists. Martha was a graduate of the Louisville School of Art and a former member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.
A native of Mayfield, Kentucky, Martha was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Helen Ernestine Nelson; and brothers, Jim and Bill Nelson. She is survived by her husband, Tucker Thomas; and their children, Seth, Carl, and Mara Thomas. She is also survived by her brothers and sisters, Mary Ruth Elder (Donald), Pat Nelson, Ann Carr (Howel), and Ernie Nelson of Mayfield as well as Albert Nelson (Penny) of Louisville.
On Friday May 31, 2013, after a private burial at Cave Hill Cemetery, the family will be welcoming visitors at Pearson’s Funeral Home, 149 Breckinridge Lane from 4 to 8 p.m. People are also invited to attend a memorial service and reception held in her honor at Highland Presbyterian Church, 1011 Cherokee Road Saturday June 1, 2013, at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to: Louisville School of Art Alumni Scholarship Fund, c/o Meghan Greenwell, Kentucky School of Art, 845 S. Third St., Louisville, KY 40203; or “Martha’s Squad” riding for Bike to Beat Cancer at biketobeatcancer.org.