Martha Cress, age 84, of Roswell, N.M., died Monday, Jan. 14, 2008.
She was born June 9, 1923, in Cokato, to Nels and Mary Raisanen. Martha attended Gunnary School, and graduated from Annandale High School in 1941.
While studying nursing at the University of Minnesota, Martha interrupted her education to serve her country in World War II. She spent two years as a second lieutenant in the Army Nursing Corps and was stationed at Camp Carson, Colo.
After the war, Martha returned to the university for more study. Shortly thereafter, she met and married Robert H. Cress. They moved from Minnesota to Texas, where their first three children were born.
In the mid 1950s, Robert’s job brought them to Roswell, N.M. It was here that they decided to put down roots and raise their family.
Martha returned to nursing in 1965, as the first home health nurse in Chaves County, N.M. In 1967, she designed and taught the first nurse’s aide class at Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell. The following year, she developed the curriculum and course outlines for the associate degree nursing program there. She spent 21 years as director of nursing for ENMU-R before retiring at the age of 64.
Martha completed her master’s degree in psychology and student personnel at ENMU in Portales, N.M. in 1970. She was a member of the New Mexico Nursing Association and served as district president in the late 1960s; was a member of the New Mexico Board of Nursing and served as chairwoman, and was also active in many other civic organizations and causes. She was honored with the March of Dimes Legends of Nursing Award in 2004.
Martha loved to travel, especially when the trip could be coordinated with a side trip to see her children and grandchildren. She also enjoyed the Opera Camp in Santa Fe, N.M. for several years.
Martha was preceded in death by her parents, Nels and Mary Raisanen; and a sister, Mary Ann Kivisto.
She is survived by her husband, Robert, of Roswell, N.M.; five children, Anna Ericsson of Peoria, Ill., Ruth Liyama of Everett, Wash., Josh Cress of St. Paul, Matt Cress of Albuquerque, N.M., and Eve Carnell of Seattle, Wash.; and 10 grandchildren.
Martha is further survived by two brothers, Paul Raisanen of Cokato, and Niilo Raisanen of Hutchinson.
Memorials can be made to the Roswell Assurance Home at 1000 E. 19th Street, Roswell, NM 88201.