Cover photo for Richard "Dick" Martin's Obituary
Richard "Dick" Martin Profile Photo
1926 Richard 2014

Richard "Dick" Martin

July 25, 1926 — December 26, 2014

Richard A. Martin, 88, died peacefully in the early morning hours of December 26 at Mercy Hospice in Johnston, Iowa. His loving wife and daughter had been with him throughout his illness, and the "Martin 3" were blessed to share one last very special Christmas Day together.
Born on July 25, 1926, in Hedrick, Iowa, to Myrl and Hilda (Hutton) Martin, he was affectionately known as "Dick" since he was a young man.

Dick grew up on a farm during the Great Depression, where he learned the value of hard work and respect for the land. He was fortunate to be surrounded by a large extended family, and developed a close bond with many of his aunts, uncles and cousins that lasted a lifetime. Dick enjoyed riding horses, his mother's homemade cooking, and roller skating up the road to his grandparents' farm for a piece of candy. He went to a one-room country school from grades 1-8; in fact his teachers often lived in the Martins' farmhouse.

Because the country was in the throes of the Depression, Dick was one of only a few of the "farm boys" who went on to attend Sigourney High School. He played varsity basketball for the "Sigourney Savages," and made many lifelong friends.

Dick went to the University of Northern Iowa for a year, and was studying to become a teacher. But World War II changed that, and he was drafted into the Army in 1944. His Basic Training was in Mineral Wells, Texas, followed by Officer Training in Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to the 7th Division, and the young 2nd Lt. Martin sailed from San Francisco for two weeks across the Pacific Ocean to Okinawa. His unit was stationed in Korea for about a year, and then remained an additional year following the end of the war under the direction of Gen. Douglas MacArthur to liberate the Koreans who had been under Japanese control. Like many from that "Greatest Generation," Dick didn't speak much about his service or accomplishments, but was extremely patriotic, loved this country, and proudly flew the U.S. flag outside his business and home for years.

After the war, Dick decided that his calling was to become a funeral director and serve families at their time of need. He graduated from the St. Louis College of Mortuary Science.

During that time, he met Joan Smith, and the two were married on June 25, 1955, at St. Elizabeth Church in Harper, Iowa. They were inseparable throughout their 59 years of marriage, and enjoyed a wonderful life together.

An opportunity arose in 1957 for Dick to acquire what had ironically already been established as the Martin Funeral Home in Emmetsburg from an elderly couple that was of no relation. In those early years, he also provided the local ambulance service. Dick also acquired a funeral home in Ruthven in 1977, which allowed him to extend his services to families in that nearby community.

Throughout his career, he was dedicated to providing the utmost in dignity to each of the deceased to whom he was entrusted, and equally devoted to treating their families with compassion. Dick built wonderful relationships with all of the local clergymen as he served their congregations.

Professionally, Dick served on the Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Legislative Committee for the Iowa Funeral Directors Association; and was a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, National Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards and Associated Funeral Directors. He was honored to serve as Chairman of the Iowa Board of Mortuary Science Examiners, to which he was given a three-year appointment by then-Gov. Robert Ray.

Dick and Joan had one daughter, Mary Jo. He was a devoted, active and involved father who encouraged her in every step of her life, loved her unconditionally and gave her solid roots from which to grow. They shared a special bond. He never missed any of her events, no matter how busy or tired he was.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus; a Past President of the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Emmetsburg Savings & Loan; was on the Board of Directors of the Emmetsburg Country Club; served on the city's Planning & Zoning Commission for 20 years; and was a member of the Parent Advisory Board and Athletic Booster Club for the Emmetsburg school system.

Through his years in Emmetsburg, Iowa; Plano, Texas; West Des Moines, Iowa and 17 winters in Scottsdale, Arizona, Dick made wonderful friendships that he cherished. He had many interests, most notably golf, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Green Bay Packers, politics and current events.

He is survived by his wife Joan of West Des Moines, Iowa, and daughter Mary Jo of Carrollton, Texas, sister-in-law Jean Gaertner and her family, and a host of cousins spread throughout the country. He was Godfather to five: Chuck Needham, David Spies, Drew Lewis, Senta Plunkett, and Julie Wrage. He was preceded in death by his parents and his older brother, William Martin.

Dick's true spirit and inner strength has shone throughout his life - especially in battling various health issues. In fact, he was a 20-year survivor of Stage 4 Cancer. In January 2014, he suffered a stroke, but through hard work in physical therapy, was able to return home and live independently with his wife. A serious fall in September resulted in a subdural hematoma and other complications that, although he was eager to improve through therapy, his body had just endured too much.

The family wishes to thank everyone who has reached out to them during this time with words of comfort, prayer and love; your kindness will never be forgotten. And a very special thank you to the entire staff at Mercy Hospice-Johnston.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be considered in Dick's name to Operation Rise & Conquer, which sends severely wounded veterans to Colorado for a week of highly personalized outdoor activities that helps them regain confidence and trust in themselves and others. The program is particularly meaningful to Dick because it was created by and is directly funded by members of the plumbing industry, including the trade magazine for which Mary Jo is the Editorial Director; Dick read with great interest the articles she has done on the program after interviewing several veterans who have participated, as well as its honorary spokesman, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. (Operation Rise & Conquer, c/o Adaptive Sports Center; 10 Crested Butte Way, Treasury Center-Lower Level, Mt. Crested Butte, CO 81225, ATTN Chris Hensley, Executive Director or via e-mail and click on the option to Donate, and then select Operation Rise & Conquer from the Funds list.

Another option the family would appreciate considering for memorials is Mercy Hospice-Johnston, 5820 Winwood Dr., Johnston, IA 50131. This 12-room facility offers a home-like atmosphere, comfortable for patients and their families. The family would like to express their gratitude for the personal, gentle and compassionate touch of the staff at this facility toward Dick in his final days.

Funeral Service: Saturday 10:00 A.M. St. Mary Catholic Church Sigourney
Visitation: Saturday 9:00 A.M. at St. Mary Catholic Church
Burial: St. Elizabeth's Cemetery Harper, Iowa

Arrangements - Holm Funeral Home - Sigourney, Iowa

Memorial Service: Monday December 29, 2014 at 10:00A.M. St. Francis of Assisi West Des Moines. Lunch will be served following the service.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard "Dick" Martin, please visit our flower store.


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