Every day at 6:15 a.m. sharp, data processor Martha Cartwright would arrive at Gunn in her trademark car, a white 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. “It was like clockwork,” Guidance Technician Assistant Robin Francesconi said. “Even the janitors had to make sure they would come before her.” Francesconi knew Cartwright for 13 years. But one recent Wednesday morning, the white sports car was not in the staff parking lot. “[Subconsciously] when we didn’t see her car we were all concerned,” Francesconi said. “If you didn’t see Martha’s car, something was wrong.” The staff soon found out that, after working in the district for 49 years, Cartwright had passed away. She was in her late seventies.
Cartwright began her data processing career at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School and then transferred to Gunn in 1965. In 2011, she took on additional work for Palo Alto High School. Cartwright’s work focused on manual data entry of student data into schools’ databases and management of the logistics of student schedules. “All the behind-the-scenes things that you assume are there already—she was instrumental in making it happen,” Francesconi said. According to Francesconi, Cartwright was very detail oriented. “She could recall all dates, times, events [and] seasons, and her legacy was that she retained all information even with more than a thousand students,” Francesconi said. In the time Francesconi has had working with Cartwright, she has learned a lot about who Cartwright was as a co worker and as a person. “In her 49 years of employment, she missed about 2 weeks of work due to medical issues,” she said. “She did not take days off because she simply loved being here—meeting students, always helping the staff and just enjoyed being at Gunn.”
Cartwright was compassionate and cooperative when working with staff and students. “She really cared about all the students and remembered everyone,” Francesconi said. “She always made you feel like you were number one, and always helped you with something, and was always there for you.” According to Registrar Tracy Douglas, Cartwright would never turn down an opportunity to provide a lending hand. “Whenever I needed help, she would drop everything and ask, ‘Whatcha got?’” Douglas said. Cartwright also brought a positive attitude to the workplace. “She would always make you laugh,” Francesconi said. “If you were ever feeling down, she could always make you laugh.”
Cartwright’s friends, family and fellow staff mourn her loss; the emotional ordeal has especially impacted those who were close to Cartwright. “For the staff that knew her, it was a great shock,” Francesconi said. However, Francesconi believes Cartwright has moved on to a better place. “She passed away peacefully,” she said. “That’s all we know.”