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Donald C. Martin '51

Don Martin traveled the seven continents, spoke and read three languages, and up until is diagnosis of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 28, was cycling, Rollerblading or swimming daily. He died Sept. 17. He was 85. Born June 3, 1928, in Peoria, Il., Martin was the third of Edna and John Martin's four children. The family moved to Bovey in northern Minnesota where their home had no electricity and no indoor plumbing. As a child, Martin walked to a one-room school house. He went on to study chemistry at Antioch College in Ohio and become a physician, but always was drawn to the liberal arts, said his son, Reed Martin of Sonoma. “”He took theater classes even though he majored in chemistry. He took dance classes at the Martha Graham Studio. That is just the kind of guy he was,”” he said. “”He was a guy who always said yes to things.”” As a new father stationed in southern California where he was a captain in the U.S. Air Force, Martin was shipped to Russia to serve as the physician at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1959 to 1961. “”My dad loved to travel, so of course he said yes,”” said Martin's daughter, Millie McKibbin of San Diego. After that stint, the family relocated to Sonoma where Martin established a medical practice. “”It was general practice. You kind of did everything, delivered babies, did surgery,”” McKibbin said. He sold the practice in 1999 but immediately went to work as medical director for Sonoma Community Health Center, where he served until three weeks before his death. Martin could speak, read and write in English, Spanish and Russian. He also spoke Chinese, German and French. “”He was deeply curious about the world,”” Reed Martin said. Family discussions around the dinner table typically led to a trip to the encyclopedia to answer a question, he said. “”He'd say, 'Gosh, I don't know. Let's go find out,'”” his son said. Martin maintained his fitness not out of vanity but so that he could lead a full life, his children said. He swam more than an hour at a time, Rollerbladed and rode his bike on the Lovall Valley Road loop. “”He wanted to be healthy and fit so he could have an active and interesting life,”” Reed Martin said. About a decade ago, Martin hiked to Peru's Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca site nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. When McKibbin inquired whether any hikers had to wait - thinking others might have had to to wait for her 75-year-old father - the answer made her chuckle. “”He said, 'I never had to wait that long, like an hour at the most,'”” she recalled. He was preceded in death in 2006 by his wife of 50 years, Mary Krueger Martin. In addition to his daughter, Millie McKibbin, and son, Reed Martin, Don Martin is survived by daughter Julie McClelland and son, Bennett Martin, both of Sonoma; his wife Gay Vela of Sonoma; his brother, Robert Martin of Key West, Fla.; and nine grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 5 at St. Andrew United Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bergen/Martin Scholarship Fund at St. Andrew United Presbyterian Church, 16290 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, CA.