PORTLAND – Martha Elizabeth Colbath Donahue and her twinkling laugh passed on from our world on Feb. 12, 2021. She was 84 and 5/6ths years young. She was born in Portsmouth, N.H. to William and Doris Colbath and was raised near Woodford’s Corner area of Portland. Youthful summers were spent at family camps in Alton Bay, N.H. and on Panther Pond in Raymond. In 1964, she married Roger W. Donahue, who predeceased her in 1991.

She graduated Deering High School in 1954. From there she went on to Farmington State Teachers College. Graduating in 1958 with her teaching degree, she went on to become an elementary school teacher that helped shape the world for over 53 years. She started her career in Lewiston and then spent 45 years in Gorham teaching 5th grade. Her dedication to her students was legendary. She was famous for root beer float parties and Christmas candle making projects.

She had a lifelong passion for being involved and helping her communities. When she resided in Lewiston, she was a member of the Little Community Theater and performed many shows, such as, Oklahoma! and The Music Man. Since 1983, she was an integral member of Altrusa International, a service organization dedicated to literacy and education. She devoted countless hours to bringing the joy of books and reading to innumerable people She was also a member of the Cumberland County Retired Educators Association and the Maine Education Association and worked as the historian there for many years.

She is survived by her brother, William Colbath and his wife Mary, her sister, Helen Colbath; her three nieces and five great-nieces and nephews, Rebecca Page and her two children Andrew and Brook, Allison Colbath; Katherine Guerrette and her husband Christopher and their three children Ian, Jackson and Delaney; and her cat, Gabby (who got her name because she talks so much). She is also survived by the countless friends that she considered family. She was blessed to still hold dear people from all chapters of her life; elementary school, college, teaching and 35 years of neighborhood friends. They made her life rich and brought her much happiness.

She had a love of all things whimsical and joyful. Every nook and cranny of her home was always decorated for every season and holiday. Children’s books took center stage in her heart and her coffee table. She was known for having a car trunk full of books at the ready no matter where she went. Her endless energy and crafty creativity, fueled by late night coffee, could bring life to any gathering. She was always prepared to entertain and host, whether it was a decadent dinner or a neighborhood block party, she was ready to celebrate and laugh!

There will be a small, private gathering in the springtime at Evergreen Cemetery for her interment. Arrangements handled by Advantage Funeral in Portland.

When you think of her, and want to honor her memory, think about doing one of these things:


*Support Independent Bookstore

*Read a Book

*Give a Book

*Eat Good Food; especially a rhubarb pie or cake with chocolate frosting.

*Or Donate to:  Altrusa Portland, P. O. Box 8834, Portland, ME 04104, in her name to continue to spread the joy of reading

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