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Children's TV Writer Killed by SUV Remembered for Her Humor and Compassion

By Nikhita Venugopal | March 1, 2013 7:28pm | Updated on March 1, 2013 7:52pm

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Friends and family gathered on Friday afternoon to celebrate the life of Martha Atwater, a 48-year-old children’s TV writer who was killed last week when an SUV jumped the curb and hit her.

Dozens of people gathered at Grace Church, 254 Hicks St., to bid farewell to a mother of two who was described at the service as “a pillar of love and compassion.” Mourners packed into the church, several standing in the aisles, under small white lights that hung across the ceiling.

While friends remembered Atwater as a kind and loving soul, they said they still could not grasp the suddenness of her death.

Atwater was killed on the afternoon of Feb. 22 when the driver of an SUV lost control of the vehicle and hit her on Clinton Street near Atlantic Avenue. The driver remained at the scene and police said no criminality was suspected.

“No calculus or formula could make us understand any of it,” said Sarah Atwater Mayer, a relative, in her remembrance speech Friday afternoon.

Mayer spoke of Atwater’s sense of humor and her generosity toward others. She called her “a star” — someone who left a trail of stardust for anyone who needed a lift.

Atwater is survived by her husband Tom and her two daughters, Chloe and Olivia.

A beloved member of her community, Atwater was also an award-winning television writer with credits on more than 200 half-hours of live-action and animated programming for kids and families, according to her LinkedIn page, including "Clifford The Big Red Dog" and "Goosebumps." Atwater was a member of the Emmy-winning team for PBS series "WordWorld."

She also kept a blog called "Desperately Seeking Jon Stewart: Solving The World's Problems One Post at a Time," where she dabbled in humor writing for grown-ups.

Atwater was remembered especially for her infectious laughter and wit. Kathleen Perrin Atwater, the TV writer’s niece, recalled fond memories of her aunt, such as shopping on Fifth Avenue or playing on a Hamptons beach.

“She was a self-proclaimed cool aunt,” she said. “Martha could always make us laugh.”

The remembrances were followed by a musical tribute on guitar, titled “Little Martha.”

Atwater was also a member of the Brooklyn Heights Association, a local neighborhood group, where she had been on the board since 2010.

“We could count on Martha to ask the question that was on everyone’s mind but most were afraid to ask. She was everything a board member should be and at the same time, she made our board meetings fun and interesting,” Jane McGroarty, the association's president, said in a statement.

Dozens of mourners gathered outside the church at the end of the ceremony, embracing and weeping.

“So many people,” said a mourner, who had been a friend of Atwater’s for eight years. “She [was] just such a pleasure to be with."