Martha Cradle Bradley of Lexington Park, Maryland went home to eternal rest on January 19, 2023. Martha, who was affectionately called “Martha Lynn” or “Nannie Marf” by much of her family, was born in Washington, DC on January 14,1947; the fifth child of Annie Odell Williams Cradle and Samuel Henry Cradle. She was the oldest girl of ten children and naturally took on the role of assistant homemaker and caregiver for her many siblings at an early age. All that encountered Martha throughout her life were instantly aware of her nurturing and creative nature. Martha had a strong interest and talent in cooking, sewing, crocheting, and taking care of people that began in her early years and persisted throughout her life. She took joy in frequently helping her mother sew outfits for the family and in preparing new dishes for dinner.
When Martha was young, her family moved to St. Mary’s County, Maryland. She attended Benjamin Banneker School for most of her schooling career. Upon leaving Banneker, she took on the role of homemaker and her most beloved role ever of mother. She also worked at the Harry Lundenberg School of Seamanship as a cafeteria worker in St. Mary’s County before moving back to Washington, DC in 1974. There she tried her hand at working in security at Washington National Airport before realizing that she needed to return to her true love of caregiving. She then went on to work at the geriatric division at Capital Hill Advanced Adult Services (CHAAS) from 1976-1981. In 1981, she obtained her certification to become a nanny and began a life-long career as a registered nanny for several families in the Washington, DC Capitol Hill area. Two of the families which were very dear to her heart were the Angels’ and Simons’, both of which still considered her their family.
Martha had many talents and hobbies. You were beyond lucky if you tasted her famous sweet potato pies or Tollhouse cookie bars, which she would make an array of every holiday season to hand out to all of her family and friends. She was also well known for her very intricate handmade Christmas decorations which left many in awe. She was a professional stylist and personal tailor for many people including those within her family for which she often selflessly volunteered her services. She made countless dresses and suits and if there was ever a wedding, prom, or homecoming for a family member or close friend, Martha was always the first person called. These calls usually included impossible requests to make something extremely complicated, in a very short amount of time. Although most would have been overwhelmed with these requests, they were always met with her calm and sweet “sure sweetie”, and she always delivered with a smile and as the result of her spending countless hours at night working to ensure perfection. There was nothing that she could not sew and she would frequently alter the design to add her own impeccable flare and style. In addition, she was always extremely fashionable. There was never a time where she left the house without her entire outfit from head-to-toe coordinated to perfection, she even changed up her hair to make sure it matched the style of clothes she was wearing that day.
She LOVED family and being surrounded by her relatives. She had a special relationship with each of her nieces and nephews which she always surrounded herself by. She always kept in contact with her close and extended family alike and played the role of family historian and coordinator. If you wanted to reach someone or get an update on someone in the family, Martha was just the one to call. She took great joy in helping the family gather together at annual family reunions, crab feasts and bus trips. Through much of her adult years, Martha was also the family photographer, forever with a camera in hand she documented all family events. Martha also loved shopping, especially for antiques and bargains. She had an impeccable eye for that which was unique and invaluable. She would often share her numerous findings with family members and although she amassed quite a bit could always, to the amazement of many, locate anything that was purchased with pinpoint accuracy when needed. This included her being able to quickly locate everything from jewelry to a car carburetor in her stash. In addition to shopping, Martha’s hobbies included going to the race track. She could be found there most weekends. Her enthusiasm and love for racing was so great that it spread throughout her family with many of her nieces and nephews frequently visiting the race tracks knowing that they could find and hang out with her there. She attended so often that many of the drivers and crew were well acquainted with her and treated her with the status of a local celebrity as she would go through the pit to meet and greet them after the races.
Martha was full of life and living. In 2020, as she was recovering from a routine surgery, she suffered a stroke. As it was during the COVID-19 pandemic she was not able to fully participate in physical therapy and never fully regained her motor skills. Although bedridden following the stroke, Martha maintained her sweet and pleasant disposition. Ever social and family oriented, she continued to reach out to her loved ones and learned how to use technology (her tablet) to frequently video chat with them. Up until her last days she remained a fighter and one who tried not to complain and to make the most of what she was given. In her final hours she was surrounded by family who comforted her as she went on to rest. Although she will be truly missed, the family is at peace knowing that she put up a great fight and is in pain no more.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Annie Odell Williams Cradle and Samuel Henry Cradle; brothers, James Cradle (Rose), Kenneth Cradle, Steven Cradle; sisters, Sheila Cradle and Betty Cradle, and brother-in-law, J. Blaine Somerville, Jr.
Martha leaves to mourn her daughter, Sonya “Toni” Cradle Harris, who was not only her daughter but best friend and constant companion; her beloved son-in-love, Ronald Harris; grandson, Taron Harris, and great grandson, Aiden Reed; her nephew/son, Shamar Hickman (Thomesha), whom she shared a special bond, and several children who were near and dear to her heart including Arielle Angel, David Angel, Charlie Simon, Annie Simon, and Taylor Vaughn Nelson. She also leaves to mourn her cousin, Sharon Clarke, who was like a sister to her and a dear friend, Lawrence Baltimore. She is also survived by her brothers, Marvin Cradle (Angel), Dorain Cradle (Agnes), Charlotte Cradle Somerville, Samuel “Ronnie” Cradle, Uncle Randolph Williams and a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Family and friends will unite on Friday, February 3, 2023 for visitation at 10 am until time of service at 11 am at Gospel Tabernacle of Prayer Church, 24516 Budds Creek Rd, Clements, MD 20624. Interment to follow at Galilee United Methodist Cemetery, Rt 247, Mechanicsville, MD (Oakville).