Martha Hazen remembrances


Remembering Martha

The following messages were either posted to the AAVSO Discussion Group or emailed to the AAVSO. If you would like to post a message, please email it to

I am sorry to have to be the bearer of sad new at this time of the year, Martha Hazen McHenry (AAVSO former sectary) has passed away at 6:30 this morning at her home in Hingham, MA. She had developed the same AML leukemia as Jan
—Mike Mattei

This is sad news indeed. I first knew of Martha when asking some questions regarding the Harvard plate stacks in the mid-90's. Once I joined the Council, it was obvious how her experience and enthusiasm contributed to the discussions. I valued my time with her, and will miss her guidance and friendship.

That is indeed very sad news. My most heartfelt condolences to Martha's family and friends, and to the AAVSO staff that knew and worked with her.

A nice movie of Martha being presented with the AAVSO Merit Award by Arne and Elizabeth is on the AAVSO Web site. It's a sweet little piece. Go watch it.
—Christopher Watson

This is really shocking news. I spoke to Martha on Tuesday, this week, to tell her about the news of the potential move from 25 Birch Street to 49 Bay State. I asked her about Bruce's health, and she was very upbeat, reporting that Bruce was feeling very good. She made no mention that she had been sick, and was feeling fine. She mentioned that she hoped to attend a future meeting.

She served the AAVSO over the years and was a strong supporter and friend.

My heart felt sympathy goes out to Bruce and Martha's family.

Martha was a great friend of the AAVSO and certainly a generous mentor to me, encouraging my variable star investigations in the Harvard plate collection. She also made a significant contribution to variable star astronomy during her active retirement by searching the old discovery plates and recovering the identifications of countless "lost" variables found at Harvard many decades ago and published without precise positions or finding charts. This represented an enormous amount of painstaking (and sometimes frustrating) work. She was a great example of a professional astronomer who meshed well with the "citizen scientists" of the amateur community. I am very glad that we didn't wait too long to present Martha with the AAVSO Merit Award.
—David B. Williams

That is very sad news indeed. AML is a very severe form of Leukemia, very difficult to deal with as well know by now. My thoughts and prayers go with her and her husband and family. She was an AAVSO institution for many years, and will be missed,
—Mario Motta, MD

My heartfelt condolences to Martha's family. Even though I didn't really know her, I knew of her accomplishments at AAVSO. A truly sad piece of news at this time of year. ...
—Mike Linnolt

That is very sad news at all.

I meet her several years ago and every time we meet, she was a very wonderful person giving interesting comments and encouraging the work with variable stars...

She really was an AAVSO institution as a fantastic Secretary in Council. We will miss her.
—Jaime Garcia

Oh no. What sad news! I remember Martha from many years back.

I send my condolences to her family.
—Michael Newberry

I first met Martha Hazen in 1988 at the Harvard Observatory's photographic plate collection where she was curator. She welcomed this variable star novice warmly even though she did not know me. All she had was a recommendation from Marvin Baldwin that I had a genuine variable star discovery, which apparently was enough for her.

I was impressed with Martha from the moment I met her. Extremely intelligent, articulate and business like yet warm and humorous at the same time. Martha's smile and laughter were infectious. Her sometimes blunt manner came not from unkindness but rather from being on the top end of the intelligence scale. Her knowledge of variable stars was impressive to say the least. Her knowledge of the plate collection was unmatched.

Several years later I was to work closely with Martha during my 12 years on the AAVSO Council. During those years she served a short stint as AAVSO president but most of that period she was our secretary. Martha was always one of, if not the strongest supporters of the AAVSO I have ever met. She gave freely of her time and expertise as well as generous monetary contributions.

Barb and I became good friends with Martha and her husband Bruce McHenry. Martha and I would attend all day council meetings and Barb and Bruce would go birding together.

This is a great loss, to me personally, to the AAVSO and to the astronomy community as a whole. Our sincerest condolences to Bruce and Martha's family.
—Dan Kaiser

I did not know her well but she always struck me as a very alive, very friendly, very good-humored and intelligent person.

Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu
—Michael Koppelman

I met Martha Hazen for the first time about 35 years ago, when I was still a graduate student and went to my first AAS meeting. It was a decade or so later, though, mostly through AAVSO, that I got to know her better and grew to consider her as a good friend.

Martha worked often behind the scenes to look out for the health of the AAVSO, and also for women in astronomy. I'm particularly grateful for one instance: she nominated me for AAAS Fellow; receiving that recognition got me a $10K raise as it persuaded my department chair that (although female) I was a serious scientist.

Martha's visible contributions to AAVSO have been summarized in several notes posted on the AAVSO web site. During much of Janet's Directorship, I know she relied on Martha as a sounding board and support. Thus Martha contributed in another "invisible" but substantial way to the health of the AAVSO.

My husband and I had a wonderful visit with Martha and Bruce on Cape Cod several years back. Perhaps partly as a result of that, my husband is developing into a serious bird-watcher. He hasn't yet quite reached their level; I remember riding with Martha when, without taking her eyes off the road, she commented "there is a _____" (I don't recall the name) about a bird I had barely noticed as a flicker of motion in my peripheral vision.

It has been a pleasure to have known her, and although we didn't interact very often outside of the AAVSO setting, the world feels emptier without her on it.
—Lee Anne Willson

Back to AAVSO Memorial web page on Martha Hazen.