Martha Anne Otero, LMSW, age 67, of Concord Farragut, passed away on Jan. 6.
Mrs. Otero was a social worker, program director, educator, an advocate for young children and young women, a devout Catholic, a volunteer, a devoted wife, wonderful mother, and a grandmother adored by her two granddaughters.
Mrs. Otero also was a free spirit, with a sparkle in her eye, quick wit, and playful sense of humor who never met a stranger. She was born March 16, 1955, in Valencia County, N.M., and she was the daughter of Manuel and Viola Otero. As the second youngest child in the family, Mrs. Otero grew up on the MO bar Ranch in the El Cerro community of Los Lunas, with her two brothers and two sisters. She spoke fondly of her memories as a young girl sitting at her grandfather’s apple trees with her siblings, the Manzano Mountains in the background, and listening to her abuelo tell stories about growing up while they enjoyed freshly cut apple slices.
After graduating from Los Lunas High School, Mrs. Otero attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she majored in special education. At UNM, she met her husband, Timothy Welch, and they were married in 1975. The next year they moved to Knoxville.
Mrs. Otero continued her studies at the University of Tennessee, earning a bachelor’s degree in an individualized program with an emphasis on Hispanic health care in the United States. She received her master’s degree in social work in 1985 and served as a Licensed Master Social Worker. She counseled clients in educational, medical, and family settings, and provided counseling and social work services at several public and private schools.
She also was a social worker at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and was a program director for several private social service organizations, assisting families during difficult situations. She also provided services for children with special needs as service coordinator for Tennessee Early Intervention Services at the University of Tennessee.
Mrs. Otero received one of her proudest titles, Mom, when daughter Whitney was born in 1987. She became a grandmother in 2018 when her first granddaughter, Gracie, was born, soon followed by Anna in 2020.
Mrs. Otero was a proud 31-year survivor of stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She faced this disease with determination, driven by her faith and desire to see her young daughter grow up. She was a tireless advocate for breast cancer survivorship, volunteering in a variety of capacities with several institutions and serving for a time on the Knox County American Cancer Society board of directors.
Mrs. Otero was a faithful member of St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut.
In addition to her parents, Manuel and Viola, Mrs. Otero was preceded in death by her oldest sister, Georgia Otero Kirkham, and brother-in-law, Rex Kirkham. She is survived by her husband, Timothy Welch; daughter, Whitney Morelli; son-in-law, Dominic Morelli; and two granddaughters, Gracie Morelli and Anna Morelli.
She also is survived by her two brothers, Jerry Otero (Madalyn) and Roberto Otero (Gayla), sister Pamela Otero (Rocky Hill), and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, Peralta, N.M., on March 18.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, St. John Neumann Church in Farragut, or Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, in Peralta, N.M.