By James Lomuscio
Martha Aasen, the Mississippi-born steel magnolia credited with the Westport’s Democratic Party’s renaissance during the 1990s, died today at Norwalk Hospital from heart failure following a fall last weekend. She was 90.
Martha Aasen Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
During her tenure as chairwoman of the town’s Democratic Town Committee (DTC)—the first woman to hold the post – Aasen was front and center in Westport during visits from President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and myriad party heavy hitters.
Revered as the power behind the party, she received the Silver Donkey Award from the Westport Democratic Women and was later credited with a town wide turnout of 87.9% of Democratic voters in 2000, according to the late local writer Woody Klein.
During her time in Westport, where she and her husband Larry Aasen moved in 1963, she was also active in international affairs, working in public relations for the UN, and later as director of technical assistance for International Executive Service Corps in Stamford.
Born Martha Ann McMullen in Lake, Mississippi in 1930, Aasen’s passion for party politics was piqued by her father Milton McMullen, who took her to political rallies during the 1940s.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt cinched Aasen becoming a lifelong Democrat.
“The man I remember best when I was growing up in the South was Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Aasen told Klein in a 2001 article for Westport Magazine. “In my house, we all gathered around the radio to listen to his fireside chats.
“I remember the day he died,” she added. “April 12, 1945.”
Growing up in the segregated South, she said she flaunted convention by having Black friends. After high school and college (She spent two years at Mary Baldwin In Virginia, finishing up at the University of Mississippi.), she landed a job at McGraw Hill, working for the magazine Fleet Owner, a trucking magazine. She said she landed the writing job by saying that her father had sold farm equipment.
There, she met Larry Aasen, her editor, who would become her future husband. They were married in 1953, and they raised two children David and Susan in Westport where they moved in 1963, remaining in their Ellery Lane home until her death.
In addition to Larry Aasen, 97, she is survived by her two children.
No details about services have been released.