Remembrance of the Life of Martha Fly CoL
Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Martha Fly’s nephew, David Schoeni, for sharing this obituary with Loretto.
Martha Marie Fly, age 75, died peacefully in her sleep on Oct. 30, after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease and post-polio syndrome. A memorial service will be take place 3 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., where she had lived since 2012. Family and friends will attend via Zoom.
Martha was born Feb. 21, 1945, in Manhattan, Kan., to Viola Opal (Green) and Elbert M. Fly Jr. She graduated from Topeka High and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education, with a minor in music, from Kansas State University in 1967; a master’s in mathematics education from Webster University in St. Louis in 1974; and a doctorate of ministry, with a focus on administration as theological expression, from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo., in 1988. Martha became a co-member of Loretto on Nov. 4, 1976.
From 1967-73, Martha taught fifth and sixth grade in public schools in Arvada, Colo., and Overland Park, Kan. She moved to Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Mo., where she taught math and music from 1973-81 and served as a teaching principal from 1981-84. After Loretto closed, Martha co-founded Kansas City Academy, where she served as principal, coordinator and math teacher from 1984-95, and academic dean from 1995-2005.
A lifelong singer and cellist, Martha played with the Kansas City Civic Orchestra from 1970-87 and sang in church regularly throughout her life. In 2004, she co-founded the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center at Lake Pomme de Terre, Mo., where she served on the board through 2019. As a Loretto co-member, Marth was active in Loretto gatherings, Assemblies, committees, schools and projects.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Elbert and Opal, her stepmother, Stella Kern Fly, and her brother, John Fly. She is survived by her sister, Libby Fly Schoeni (Terry) of Overland Park, Kan.; her sister-in-law, Ronna Fly of Highland Village, Texas; nieces and nephews, Christa, David, Brian, Amy, Steve, and Ashlee; her dear friends, Cathleen Burnett, Sally Firestone, Paul Jones, and the extended Jones family. Martha’s body was cremated, with cremains buried at the Loretto Motherhouse Cemetery and the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center.
One of Martha’s greatest gifts was her ability to move from “It can’t be done” to “How can we do it together?” As an educator and co-founder of Kansas City Academy, she helped students and faculty overcome obstacles to reach their potential as co-learners; holding fast to her vision for the school in the midst of having to find creative ways to keep the lights on, the faculty paid and enough students enrolled. As the co-founder of the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center, Martha helped Paul Jones realize his vision as she navigated the innumerable details necessary to create a non-profit. As a member of the extended Jones family clan, she never let her physical challenges prevent her from joining in the adventures — from hiking in the Rocky Mountains to ice skating on the frozen Lake Pomme de Terre. And in her daily life, Martha gracefully accepted help from friends, family and even the latest gadgets so she could continue doing the things she loved. She was a faithful and devoted friend, carefully editing Paul’s many books, co-leading adventures on the Oregon Trail with Loretto Sister Eleanor Craig, and meeting regularly with her dear friends Sally and Cathleen for over 30 years. And she enjoyed especially close relationships with her nieces and nephews.
Instead of flowers, please make memorial gifts to any or all of Martha’s favorite organizations: Loretto Community, Kansas City Academy and the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center.