A Tribute to Dr. Marta Elders—Our Love of a Lady

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Judy Van Cleave
Marta Elders
Marta Elders

Editor’s Note: Marta Elders served on Urantia Foundation's Expanded Board of Trustees since 2008. In addition, she was an integral part of Urantia Book Internet School for 12 years. She graduated on May 7 of this year, and we all miss her! Please enjoy reading the following two accounts of how Marta impacted our lives.

By Judy Van Cleave, secretary, Urantia Foundation, Idaho, United States

Marta’s first meeting as an associate trustee was at the Hotel Kyriad Roissy Villepinte near the Charles de Gaulle airport in April 2008—springtime in Paris. She had planned for April 2022 to be her final meeting and personal farewell, though when the time grew near, she grew too weak.

During her 14 years on the board (two terms as associate trustee, and the remainder as an emeritus) Marta served on the Education Committee, the Planning Committee, and with the Urantia Book Internet School. Early on she prepared and directed the board’s planning sessions.

In 2014 she held a stellar workshop on “The Soul”at 533.Sheco-facilitated a “Circle of Trust” retreat for the expanded board in 2016. She was a member of the team who planned and held the fabulous Global Cultural Symposium in April 2019 and remained enthusiastically devoted to increasing the cultural awareness of our board.

Marta rarely, if ever, missed a board meetingand brought her sage and soulful presence to everyone. Many were the times that her clarity of thought and wisdom cast our conversation into a new, illuminating light. Her insights were informed, seasoned, and loving—passionately devoted always to preserving the mission, vision, and values entrusted us by the revelators.

Marta touched deeply the lives of her fellow board members throughout her years of service at Urantia Foundation, her value among us so clearly felt. I have always resisted being without her. She served with us until she left this world and she served well.

Marta was gracious and warm, the embodiment of easy, casual elegance and effortless beauty—that which is soul deep. Does that seem excessive? It’s not meant to be; it simply describes the essence of our lady. And she was—she is—fun, so very much fun!

We shared years of laughter and wine tastings in the evenings with the ladies on the balconies at 533 after our long flights and long meetings—pinch-me giddy at the privilege of service and the coming together again and again for the joy of the lasting friendship it brings.

The fellas even joined us on occasion. Later we would slip into our beds and share softly into the night or wee hours of morning about our lives, our loves (mothers and grandmothers, we), our losses, and our work together and at home. It was magical, meaningful, in so many ways.

After our last 533 meeting in 2019, Marta rather suddenly lost David, her husband and lifelong companion. In 2015 when I lost Wayne—whom she’d met and won over soundly in Paris—she texted me daily with tender words of encouragement and timely insights. It amazed me then, her skill, her gift, of striking just the right chord at just the right moment.

By comparison, I had little skill or expertise to offer her. She seemed much better equipped at graciously, gracefully accepting the alteration of her world at losing David. When reality settled in, having intimate familiarity with the way of the widow, I found my experience to be of value and meaning to her. There is nothing, it seems, quite like shared experience for deepening our understanding.

My lasting lament is that I never made it to her enchanting Connecticut cottage, as I so longed to do, nor had the opportunity to give her the hug she was due. What a joy it would have been!  One that must now await a roofless abode rendezvous.

At times I think of having commented once too often on the turquoise toiletry tote she would bring with her to the Foundation and place on our bathroom windowsill. When it was there, I knew she was, too. One day, a year or two past, I pulled a padded mailing bag out of my mailbox. I opened it to find Marta’s tote with a love note inside.

Sweet, sweet, sister, mentor, friend, always giving some treasure of your own, something of you to others for the pure joy, the love and light of it. The things your family shared about you are utterly true:

“It wasn't what she did but how she lived that defined Marta’s life. She could light up a room with her warmth, graceful beauty, and smile and had a timeless sense of style. She collected and nurtured many meaningful friendships all over the world and completely and unequivocally lived her truth. 

“Also known as ‘Jojo’ to her five grandchildren, she was a constant presence in their lives engaging in their personal journeys whether it be their sports, academics, or their spiritual paths.  According to them, Jojo also had a pretty lit emoji game. She adored her family and her grandchildren endlessly, always wrapping each of them individually in a warm blanket of love and beaming with pride watching them grow and explore all the beauty, love, and goodness that exists in this world.”

“Perhaps her greatest gift was to guide countless people through the most difficult times in their lives. She helped them to see light when all they could see was darkness. She taught them to be able to give and receive love when they didn't think it was possible.” 

“If the definition of a ‘life well lived’ is to give more than you take, to adore and be adored by your family and friends, and to leave nothing unsaid and to have no regrets when your earthly journey ends and your spiritual journey begins, this truly was an exceptional life.”

Is it any wonder she is so easy to love?

In her own words in 2014, “My joy is soul work.”No doubt, Marta, soul work is what brought you the angels’ wings that spirited you inward and onward. Surely, you are the living testament of those words.

We shall miss you fiercely. There are, of late, many more loves with you now there: our loss, their gain. It brings great comfort and joy to think of you there, rendezvousing among them. 


Judy Cosky
Judy Cosky

By Judy Cosky, Urantia Book Internet School, Michigan, United States

Wrote Marta, “Dearest Soul Travelers,

“I have no fear and feel only love and faith and being deeply held by the Father. I trust this beautiful, wise, challenging, and ever-loving opportunity we have been gifted with, and the sacred opportunity to join with the revelators in this sacred journey.”

These were the last words written by our dear Marta Elders to the global board of Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS), just a few days prior to her transitioning from her mortal body to her new morontia form on the glorious mansion worlds.

Marta served UBIS for 12 years with her husband Dave. She was appointed chair of the Curriculum Committee, where she helped develop constructive and vital modifications to the curriculum plan for the school. For many years she worked closely with Dave on the Course Review Committee helping to ensure the quality of the courses under development. When Dave made his transition to the mansion worlds in December 2019, Marta continued to faithfully serve in this capacity without skipping a beat.

During the past two years Marta served as a valuable contributing member of UBIS as we expanded its educational outreach into new languages and countries. Marta truly epitomized the essence of the following declaration by a Mighty Messenger: “Service—more service, increased service, difficult service, adventurous service, and at last divine and perfect service—is the goal of time and the destination of space.” 28:6.17 (316.4)

Marta has been a gracious, joyful, and engaging teacher-facilitator, and her courses were invariably filled to capacity. She had the rare gift of making each student feel cherished and valued, which was the way she lovingly and joyfully interacted with every person that she encountered.

Her courses were stimulating, transformative, and led her students into further soul growth. Selections from the powerful courses that Marta taught over the years included, “The Soul—Offspring of Divine Spirit and Material Mind,” “The Ordination Sermon: A Master Philosophy of Life,” and “Mortal Mind—Genesis, Evolution, and Destiny.” Several of her courses have been translated for use in the Portuguese branch. Marta’s last course, “Life After Life—What’s Next?,” was amazingly facilitated by her this past trimester while she was ill and undergoing final medical treatments.

Longtime colleague and UBIS Spanish branch director Olga Lopez shared the following words: “Marta is no longer with us, but she leaves an example and inspiration of life. I will always remember her balance, the way she tried to reconcile positions so that we all felt good with the decisions made, how well she knew how to ‘read’ our inner selves. For me she is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met.”

Georges Michelson-Dupont, UBIS trustee liaison, wrote the following tribute: “My relationship with Marta and Dave has always been one of brotherhood, spiritual unity, and a certain tenderness that makes me say that we are ‘kindred spirits’. Marta is a woman of conviction and character who makes herself heard with tact and kindness. She wrote to me that she spent her last moments on Urantia in full awareness of the presence and spiritual support of our Universal Father.”

Though we grieve for the loss of our sister Marta, we also rejoice that her mighty soul has burst forth into eternity with all of her glorious gifts, talents, and spiritual butterfly beauty! What a supreme pleasure for her angelic pair and Thought Adjuster to now commune more directly with Marta’s delightful soul. And such a comforting joy for Marta’s friends and family to fully know that someday we will serve side by side together once again when we graduate to the morontia spheres, continuing to serve and eternally do the will of our Paradise Father!

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