Marta Weigle died in Santa Fe on June 14, after a short illness. Marta was born Mary Martha on July 3, 1944, in Janesville, Wisconsin, the eldest daughter of Richard Daniel and Mary Grace Day Weigle. After the war the family moved to suburban Washington, DC, where Marta’s father worked in the State Department, and then to Annapolis in 1949, when he became the president of St. John’s College.
In 1961 the Weigles moved to Santa Fe where Dr. Weigle started a second St. John’s campus.
Marta attended Annapolis elementary and junior high schools, then Northfield School for Girls in Massachusetts. She received a BA in Social Relations from Harvard (Radcliffe College, 1965) and a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania (1971). In 1972 she was hired as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of English and Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She later joined the Department of American Studies where she served as chair from 1984-1993. In 1993 she assumed a full-time appointment the Department of Anthropology, where she served as chair from 1995-2002. She retired from UNM in 2011.
Marta’s arrival in Santa Fe at the age of seventeen inaugurated her lifelong love of New Mexico and set the stage for her illustrious career as one of the great scholars of New Mexican history and culture in the latter twentieth century. Her doctoral dissertation was the basis for her first major book, Brothers of Light, Brothers of
Blood: The Penitentes of the Southwest (1976), considered a classic source on the topic. In later years her interest turned to the folklife, literary and social history of the “tri cultural” Southwest and to the development of tourism in the Southwest, resulting in several single and co-authored books as well as edited and co-edited volumes, including Santa Fe and Taos: The Writer's Era, 1916-1941 (with Kyle Fiore), The Lore of New Mexico (with Peter White), Spanish New Mexico: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society Collection, Vol. 1: The Arts of Spanish New Mexico (with Donna Pierce), Alluring New Mexico: Engineered Enchantment, 1821-2001, and Telling New Mexico: A New History (with Fran Levine).
In addition to her focus on New Mexico, professor Weigle published significant works on women and mythology, including Spiders & Spinsters: Women and Mythology, and Creation and Procreation: Feminist Reflections on Mythologies of Cosmogony and Parturition. Her meticulous and prolific scholarship enabled Marta to rise quickly through the ranks to full professor and garnered many prizes and awards. In 1990 she was appointed University Regents Professor and in 2005, she received the inaugural State Historian’s Award for Excellence in New Mexico Heritage Scholarship from the New Mexico Historical Preservation Division. She further contributed to publishing on New Mexico through co-ownership and operation, with Mary Powell, of Ancient City Press, from 1981-2005. She was widely sought as a consultant for cultural projects of various kinds.
Marta was a creative and skillful administrator, a superb editor, a generous mentor to students and younger colleagues, and a strong feminist. She played a key role in the establishment of the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies, which promotes equitable partnerships between communities and the University of New Mexico through collaborative programs in the humanities and public anthropology.
Apart from her stellar qualities as a scholar, writer, and publisher, Marta was a loyal and committed friend known for her wit, wild and irreverent sense of humor, irrepressible laughter, and lack of pretension.
Her parents and younger sister, Constance Day Weigle Mann, predeceased her. Her niece, Mary Elizabeth Mann of Washington DC, and longtime close friend Mary Powell, survive her, along with many friends and colleagues, including Liz Kay and Raymond Bal, Will and Deborah Wroth, Johnny and Sylvia Zamora, Kay Hagen, Lois Rudnick, Sylvia Rodríguez, Louise Lamphere, Ann Nihlen, Carole Nagengast, Ruth Salvaggio, Minrose Gwin, Beverly Stoeltje, Melissa Benedict and Daniel Cleavinger, and others. All will sorely miss her.
Memorial to be announced. In lieu of flowers please send donations to The Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts, at PO Box 5378, Santa Fe, NM 87502-5378; OR see www. SPANISHcolonial.org; Then go to: Donate Marta Weigle Memorial Fund