The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 23, 2013

Martha M. McDowell Urban

Writer, editor, was active in Democratic politics


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NEWTON, Mass. -- Martha M. McDowell Urban of Newton, passed away Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. She was 87.

Mrs. Urban was born May 21, 1925, to Dr. Roy McDowell and Myrtle McDowell of Sharon, and attended Sharon public schools. Martha graduated in 1947 from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Evanston, Ill.

In June 1947, she married Alfred Urban of Dorchester, Mass. They spent their married life in Evanston and Winnetka, Ill. and upon retirement, in Starlake, Wis.

After Fred’s death in 1999, Martha joined the independent-living community Lasell Village of Newton. Besides Fred, she was preceded in death by her parents and brothers Harold and William.

She is survived by her children, Guy Urban, husband of Charlyn Bethell, Watertown, Mass.; Jane Urban, wife of Mark Dannenhauer, Shutesbury, Mass.; and John Urban, Evanston; and her sister-in-law, Frances Van Kleeck, Rehobeth Beach, Del.

She will be greatly missed by grandchildren, Cody and Amy Urban and Rafer Dannenhauer; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

At the time of her death, she belonged to the First Parish Unitarian of Watertown; she and Fred were devoted Unitarian-Universalists.

Martha spent her career as an editor and writer, most notably for Rand McNally of Skokie, Ill., and for herself as Urban Editorial Services.

She was a founding member of Chicago Women in Publishing and belonged to the Association of Women in Communications. She was always active in local Democratic party politics, the League of Women Voters and worked for peace and justice issues.

She loved classical music, walking, swimming and discussing books, ideas and current events.

Family and friends will celebrate her life at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 6, in the First Parish Unitarian of Watertown.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Parish Piano Restoration Fund, 35 Church St., Watertown, MA 02472; or Thornton & Naumes Mesothelioma Housing Fund at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, 116 Huntington Ave., 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02116.

To contact the family, please e--mail: