U mourns loss of retired communication professor

Justin Ware

Richard Martin, a retired University communication disorders professor and researcher, died Oct. 26 from complications with diabetes in Tucson, Ariz. He was 70.

Colleagues, former students and family remember Martin as a man dedicated to his family, principles and teaching.

Martin’s wife Glenda fondly recalls that in 1973 when he began building an A-frame cabin in northern Minnesota, he had his three children with him every step of the way.

“He had the kids pound in the nails,” Glenda said. “He really wanted them to be a part of it.”

Martin made several contributions to communication disorders research, specifically stuttering.

Glenda said as a high school teacher in Idaho, Martin was inspired to pursue a career in communication research after working with a student who suffered from a stuttering disorder.

“He spent his career researching and teaching, but he is probably best known for his work in stuttering,” she said.

Martin was with the University’s department of communication disorders from 1960 until his retirement in 1993. He served as department chairman from 1974-77.

In 1979, the University honored Martin with the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teacher Award.

Glenda said her husband was incredibly modest and saw awards only as an added benefit to his work as a researcher. His heart was in teaching and in music.

She said Martin “was a purist about his country music” and loved listening to his old favorites, such as Hank Williams and Roy Acuff.

Arlene Carney, department of communication chairwoman, said Martin always spoke his mind and had no hidden agendas.

“He was unfailingly honest,” Carney said. “As a student, you knew what to expect.”

A note sent to the family from a former student painted a picture of a firm man with an open heart.

“He definitely wormed his way into my heart after I recovered from my original fear,” the student wrote.

Carney said Martin’s uncompromising commitment to science aided communication research in many ways.

“It wasn’t enough that he helped people, but he wanted to do it in the context of science,” Carney said.

She said his commitment to the scientific process became very important to the field and helped fill the gaps previous theories left open.

Martin was a veteran of the Korean War, where he served in the 190th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Idaho Air National Guard.

He is survived by his wife, daughter Corinne White, son Douglas, brother John and two grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Jeffrey.

There will be a service for Martin at the St. Paul Student Center on Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.