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Academy of Legends: Martha Toran


Martha Toran and her husband were once co-owners of one of the most popular night spots in town—Toran’s Tropical Hut—or Toran’s as it was affectionately called. For years everybody flocked there for lunch, happy hour and on the weekends to meet and greet the movers and shakers in the community. Toran’s was strictly for adults, not the teeny boppers. After her husband died, Martha closed up Toran’s and never looked back. She found another niche—that of community activist—and it’s a role she continues to play today.

At 70-something, Toran remains active in political campaigns, voter registration, senior citizen rights and numerous other activities throughout Wisconsin. While the years have slowed her step some, her vision is as clear and focused as ever. A self-described “senior citizen community activist” and chair of the Central City Transit Task Force Toran is also a staunch supporter of light rail, and has had the pleasure of serving as a delegate at National Democratic Conventions.

On occasion, she rents a scooter to participate in activities to make sure her legs don’t give out while she’s waiting to be heard, picket or stand in line for one event or another. She is active with the NAACP and serves on the City of Milwaukee Ethics Board, and other committees too numerous to name.

Toran may have ended a career as a Milwaukee business owner, but on the second leg of her life’s journey she has truly found her voice—and she makes sure it’s heard as she represents the disenfranchised.

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