Martha was born in 1940 in Chicago, the eldest of three daughters. In 1946 her family moved to Pasadena, California, where she was raised. She graduated from Pasadena High School in 1958, and went on to Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where she studied German. Martha studied abroad while living with a German family and in 1962 received her BA in German. She took a Master’s in German in 1964, and earned a General Secondary teaching credential.
Martha had been a high school teacher for 4 years when she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology. In 1973 she married Jim Ullrey, moved to UC Davis, and entered the Ph.D. Program. Within 8 years she had 2 daughters and had received her Ph.D. Her career began with a 2 year position with the USDA lab in Albany, and progressed to a position at Bio-Rad Labs in 1983. While at Bio-Rad she developed and managed the technical service department. She also worked as a project manager for the company’s website until her retirement in 2008.
Her hobbies include gardening, especially with California native plants, taking her dog for walks, knitting, and contributing to the community of El Sobrante. She has graciously served as the Chamber liaison with the county, overseeing the Trees and Planters Project on San Pablo Dam Road. She is the editor of the Chamber’s “About Town” newsletter, and keeps the Chamber website updated. She is the President of the Friends of El Sobrante Library, giving hours every week to that organization. She also collected signatures for a petition to the Richmond City Council to downzone the hills to the south of El Sobrante from housing to agricultural and recreational. The petition drive was successful, and resulted in the Richmond City Council adopting an ordinance changing the Richmond General Plan to prevent further housing development in the hills.
Martha is an energetic, dedicated, clever and interesting person, who has great ideas and vision and she’s not finished yet! She wants to work at least another 10 years both in the community and in the work force. The Chamber feels lucky to have such a dedicated person wanting to contribute to the community. She comments, “It’s just so much fun for me! I really enjoy contributing and helping!”
View Martha’s Response to winning the Citizen of the Year Award:
Thank you, Marie, and thank you, Chamber of Commerce!
I was very surprised to win this award, in that I thought I might receive it some year, but not this year. My younger sister, Nancy, was awarded the Citizen of the Year by her State Assembly person some years ago, for all the things she has done for her community of Boulder Creek, so it was sort of at the back of my mind. But I didn’t think I had done enough yet, to warrant this award. I’ve been active and contributing for only one year. It didn’t seem enough contribution as yet. But I am happy to accept it.
I am very grateful. The thing is, all I do for El Sobrante, monitoring the trees on the Dam Road, publishing the Chamber newsletter every month, updating the Chamber web site every month, serving as President of the Friends of the El Sobrante Library, administering my local email list, CanyonParkElSobrante, administering the email list for the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, writing up notes on what happens at the MAC meetings and sending those notes around — all these are fun to do! So I’m just having fun all the time. !! They’re all things that are easy for me to do, and as I say, quite enjoyable, so I’m good to go.
So thank you, El Sobrante, for making my life so much great fun!