Dr. Thomas Campbell Martin Jr., 76, passed away July 4, 2016, at St. Elizabeth's Hospital from complications of cardiac arrest surrounded by his family.
Tom Martin was born and raised in South Charleston, West Virginia, and loved to tell stories about the people he knew there. He was the only child born to Thomas and Pauline, nee Brown, Martin. He played trumpet in the high school band, and he was an Eagle Scout.
He went to Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine, and was a proud member of Beta Theta Pi, another source of entertaining stories. Not only did he study both large and small animals, but he was fortunate to be in the first exotic animals course offered there. He earned his DVM degree, graduating in 1963.
Coming out of ROTC, Tom went into the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. He was stationed in Chicago and New York, rising to the rank of captain while doing mostly food inspection for the troops, caring for the K-9 guard dogs and the occasional General's poodle.
He came to St. Louis to join a vet whose practice included the St. Louis Zoo and the Budweiser Clydesdales. Next he became a staff veterinarian at the Missouri Humane Society. He rescued his first dachshund from euthanasia there, and she lived happily with the family for 15 years.
During this time, he met Claire and married her in 1966. They moved to Caseyville, Ill., where he started a mobile house call practice. His goal was to have his own pet hospital.
The "Lacey Florist" place, after extensive remodeling, became home to Tom and Claire, and Adair Gardens Pet Hospital, where Tom practiced for 38 years, and during which time, his children, Brad and Laura were born. He always loved working with the animals. He appreciated his clients, some becoming very dear friends.
Several veterinarians worked part-time for him, but Dennis Stuppy (many years) and Bryan Hezel "held down the fort" while Tom healed from a triple bypass in 2001. Dan Theobald was Tom's last associate, and a favorite of the staff. There were many others, of course, and the family is grateful for everyone who relieved some of the stress of long hours, six days a week, which were all Tom for the first five years. He worked hard, and enjoyed 10 years of retirement.
Not enough praise and thanks for the many competent, cheerful, thoughtful, helpful, pleasant staff of women and men, many of whom started at Adair as teens. They were good with animals and good with people; they made Tom's work easier, and the hospital run efficiently. The everyday staff, the backbone of Adair. Bless you all.
He was enthusiastic about photography, and the latest equipment, which carried over into videography. In the early 1970's, he produced a video showing how to groom a dog, and a video with music and narration of the first Belle City Kennel Club Dog Show. He loved country music, jazz, Bob Dylan, and Maynard Ferguson. Years of reluctant piano lessons as a child did enable him to play the likes of Chuck Berry and Elvis on guitar. In his later years, he enjoyed playing his Lowery organ.
His retirement allowed him to fill friends' email inboxes with cartoons, jokes, tirades, dog, cat, and other animals' pictures and videos. Tabloids were part of his fun reading, and his serious reading reflected his vast and varied interests. He loved the water. He enjoyed visiting the beaches of Florida, and the years he had a boat, the Kelly Marie, docked at St. Charles.
His own beloved pets included the rescued Dachsy, the first of five. Then there were three Pugs, a Boston Terrier, and numerous Kerry Blues.
Tom became a member of the Elks Club and a 3rd Degree Mason; an officer of the Belleville Optimist Club; president of the St. Louis Veterinary Medical Association; a member of Southern Illinois and Illinois State VMAs. He was a member of Mississippi Valley Kennel Club; a life member of Belle City Kennel Club; member of Gateway Terrier Association and the St. Louis Kerry Blue Terrier Club. Tom wrote a monthly humor column for Veterinary Economics Magazine, and gave talks to veterinary students at Illinois and K-State. He had a stint fielding phone calls from listeners to "At Your Service" on KMOX radio.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents; his best friends, Bob and Mary Williams and Dr. John McVaney; and honorary family member, Willie McGee.
Tom is survived by his wife of 49 and three quarter years, Claire; his children, Bradley and Laura (Patrick Green); a niece, Richelle Longo of Billings, Mont.; and cousins, George A. Brown III (Hersha), and Rev. William F. Brown (Kathy) in West Virginia.
Tom's passing on July 4th was fitting, because of his lifelong fascination with fireworks. He was seven years old when the war ended, fireworks again became available, and he was hooked. He loved watching them almost as much as he loved setting them off; the louder the better! His family honored his passing by giving him a backyard fireworks display send-off. He will be fondly remembered and missed on the 4th of July, and every day.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to, Sloan-Kettering Hospital, the
, Samaritan's Purse and the Humane Society of Belleville, Ill. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.kasslyfuneral.com.
Visitation: Visitation will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 10, 2016, at Kassly Mortuary, Fairview Heights, Ill.
Funeral: A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 10, 2016, at Kassly Mortuary, Fairview Heights, Ill., with Rev. Richard Brendel officiating.
KASSLY MORTUARY, Fairview Heights, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat from July 8 to July 9, 2016