Robert James Martin was surrounded by family when he peacefully passed away at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, April 13.
Robert (Bob) was born on October 16, 1936 to James W. and Frances (Dickerson) Martin in Omaha, NE. He was raised in Holstein, IA, where he excelled as a four-sport athlete under the legendary coach, Russ Kraai, whom he credited as being his biggest life influence outside of his parents. He met his wife, Nancy Lyn (Janssen) Martin there and graduated from Holstein High School in 1954.
Bob went to the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, where he played football for two years before yielding to the demands of Pre-Med studies. He graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science degree and proceeded to University of Nebraska College of Medicine, graduating in 1961. After completing his internship at Nebraska Methodist Hospital in 1962, he entered the residency program at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City for general surgery from 1962-66. He was certified by the American Board of Surgery as a Specialist in Surgery in 1967. Following his residency, Bob enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1966, serving as Chief of Surgery at Strategic Air Command USAF Hospital at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha and consulting surgeon for the North Central Region.
He married Nancy on July 10,1960. Following the births of their children, Susan Jane (Haselhoff) and James Robert Martin, they settled in Cherokee, Iowa, where Bob began his medical practice and became team physician to Cherokee’s football team in 1968. Dr. Martin was elected a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in October, 1970. He was the chief surgeon for the Sioux Valley Memorial Hospital (now Cherokee Regional Medical Center) for 30 years before retiring in 1998, bringing the convenience of laparoscopic surgery service through the last several years. During his time he continued a life of service to the community, including the provision of free annual sports physicals for area athletes, serving on the School Board for 9 years (president, 1974-75), serving on the Cherokee Industrial Board of Directors from 1978-81, and coaching Little League Baseball as well as youth football and basketball. He was recognized for such efforts by the Iowa High School Athletic Association for the Team Doctor Award (1984) and the 1982 Honorary Referee of the Tomahawk Relays.
Dr. Martin is best known for both his giving spirit and rabid support of his Nebraska Cornhuskers. An annual contributor to the Husker Power and Touchdown Clubs of Nebraska, he was also a second-generation season ticket holder for over 50 years, passing the honor to his daughter, Susie and husband, Jim Haselhoff. In their earlier years, Bob and Nancy enjoyed taking their RV to Nebraska football games, hosting tailgate functions with family and friends. Amid the height of the Husker era, Bob supported his children’s activities from youth through high school, and he helped many athletes through difficult times, physically as well as emotionally, going as far as supporting some through secondary schooling. He was available long after hours, often doing what he could for free. As his final act of generosity for the community, Dr. Martin was a key fundraiser for the Bacon Aquatic Center, just downhill from his home.
Of the many qualities Bob had, being there for his family was his most consistent. He rarely missed an activity of his children, and he was diligent in being there for everything he could absorb of his grandchildren’s and great-grandchild’s activities. “There” was an effect he mastered, in person and online. His support of family was only rivaled by his support of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Cherokee community in general.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Nancy; daughter Susie (Jim) Haselhoff of Cherokee, IA; son, Jim (Rachelle) Martin of Des Moines, IA; grandchildren Sophia Haselhoff of Fort Dodge, IA; Emily Haselhoff of Omaha, NE; Kaylie Martin of Des Moines, IA; Reece Martin of Des Moines, IA; and great-granddaughter Isabella Peterson of Fort Dodge. He was preceded in death by his parents, James Wicher Martin and Frances (Dickerson) Martin.
Interment will be at Holstein Cemetery after the funeral, followed by a celebration of life at the Little Sioux Events Center in Cherokee.