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Obituary for Marietta (Tretter) Leatherman

Marietta Leatherman passed away at home February 23, 2024 in Portland, MI.  She was born Mary Etta Tretter on February 21, 1958 in Niagara Falls, NY to parents Margaret (Peg) Tretter and Paul Tretter. She is preceded in death by both parents and brothers Mark and Christopher Tretter. She is survived by her three children Ollie Leatherman, Emmaline (Jake) Leatherman and Abigail (Conor) Leatherman, grandchildren Willow and Raina Lagrou, good friend and ex-husband Alden Leatherman, siblings Brian Tretter, Ted Tretter, Margaret Tretter and Katie Sootheran as well as many dear nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends. She held close ties to family throughout her life, getting to know each in a big family with individual care.

Always tenaciously independent, Marietta left home at 16, moving first to Kentucky and California before heading to Alaska by ferry, throwing her last 35 cents over the railing to truly “start over”. There she attended the University of Southeast Alaska, earning a BA in Education. Though Marietta held many jobs and filled many roles throughout her life she conducted them all with deep kindness. All had in common her irrepressible drive to care for the people, communities, and world around her. She made it her life’s work to educate, advocate, inspire wonder, ease suffering, and walk in healing stewardship with the natural world. From working with disabled children and fiercely advocating for the disabled community, homeschooling her own children with a close group of friends, caregiving in nursing homes and for her aging parents, to growing food and planting wildflowers - she lived out her values in all her endeavors. In recent years she found fulfillment through meditation and as an active member of Refuge Recovery where she came to care deeply for the people and mission of that work, making real her vision of hope through leadership.

Marietta’s spiritual life was deeply and intentionally entwined with her daily life. She found the Holy throughout the natural world and immersed herself in it whenever possible. As a young woman she canoed the length of the Yukon River across Canada and Alaska and spent endless hours exploring the old growth forests and tide pools of Southeast Alaska. Later in life she enjoyed long walks in the deciduous woods of Michigan, foraging edible plants and mushroom hunting. She took every opportunity to share her awe and curiosity of the natural world with children, fostering their natural sense of wonder in things like bugs, feathers, and moss.  Always a strong swimmer she felt at home in the water, often enjoying a swim when perhaps most others would not, even teaching swim lessons in the Pacific Ocean. She maintained a large organic garden for over 30 years, able to outlast anyone weeding in the August heat. She was delighted and fulfilled through sharing harvest generously with friends, family, and anyone else who got within 10 feet of her from June through September. She sold at various local farmer’s markets, finding community especially in her hometown at the Old Red Mill Farmers Market where she organized and kicked off the first market of the season for many years. Her contributions went beyond food though, as she often had at her booth a praying mantis, monarch caterpillar or other small creature to teach curious children about. She also registered several local farmer’s markets she sold at with WIC, ensuring that vendor’s goods were available to everyone.

Marietta will be deeply missed by many, but the love she gave and connections she tended live on through the work of her children, the lives of her friends, the vibrancy of her community and the curiosity of her grandchildren. You can make a donation in her memory to the scholarship funds of either organization linked below, helping to make their offerings more accessible to all.

Woldumar Nature Center (select scholarship fund from dropdown menu):


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