posted February 1, 2007
The profession is remembering a former AVMA president who helped advance its involvement in the political process and better engage the major species organizations in the Association. Dr. Walter L. “Oogie” Martin Jr. of Chattanooga, Tenn., died Nov. 28, 2006, at the age of 83.
One of only two veterinarians to have served the AVMA as both president and treasurer—the first being Dr. Don H. Spangler—Dr. Martin was elected as treasurer in 1981, serving through 1987. Then, he led the Association as president from 1988-1989.
In his presidential address to the House of Delegates, Dr. Martin recommended the formation of a Council for Legislative and Governmental Affairs that would build on the momentum of the Legislative Planning Committee. Although a proposed bylaws amendment to create the council failed, Dr. Martin’s vision eventually was realized when the (now-defunct) Council on Governmental Affairs was created. In response to a recommendation from Dr. Martin aimed at improving communications between the AVMA and its constituents, the Executive Board invited allied group representatives to attend board meetings.
“I had a lot of respect for Dr. Martin,” said Dr. Arthur Freeman, who was then AVMA executive vice president. “He was a good friend of mine.”
Oogie Martin fought in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was a first lieutenant in the Photo Reconnaissance Group of the 5th Air Force. The unit received two Bronze Stars. Returning to Chattanooga, he earned his DVM degree from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in 1953 and began his career in small animal medicine, co-founding the Byles-Martin Animal Hospital. Later, he co-founded The Animal Clinic Inc. of Chattanooga with his son Dr. Walter L. Martin III (AUB ‘79). Out of concern for abandoned animals, he led an initiative to renovate a local property into an adoption center. Dr. Martin also bred Tennessee Walking Horses.
His interest in organized veterinary medicine began early, when he served as president of Auburn’s student chapter of the AVMA. Following his entry into practice, Dr. Martin was elected treasurer of the Hamilton County VMS and, in 1959, he became its president.
Dr. Martin went on to hold every office in the Tennessee VMA and was chosen as Veterinarian of The Year in 1977. He represented Tennessee veterinarians in the AVMA House of Delegates from 1965-1973 and again from 1977-1981. Subsequent awards from the TVMA were the Award for Outstanding Service in 1981 and the Outstanding Practitioner of the Year 10 years later. The American Animal Hospital Association recognized him with its Outstanding Service Award in 1989.
Co-founder of the Alumni Advisory Council to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn, Dr. Martin also served as its first chairman. In 1977, he was elected president of the Auburn University Alumni Association. He presided for two terms and became the only veterinarian to serve as president of the National Alumni Association. For his efforts on Auburn’s behalf, he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1988.
An avid supporter of Auburn football, Dr. Martin attended almost every game played since his graduation, according to Dr. Freeman. “Much of the time, he traveled to the game in a huge diesel-powered motor home and, because of his generous support of Auburn University, was given special parking privileges. In conversation with him, we estimated that he attended more than 450 games during his lifetime.”
In 2003, Dr. Martin’s contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations won him the AVMA Award, the Association’s highest recognition. He had become an honor roll member the previous year.
In addition to his son Dr. Walter L. Martin III of Chattanooga, Dr. Martin is survived by his daughter Janice Gentry of Chattanooga; his son Gary of Chattanooga; and his daughter Dr. Judi Martin (MIS ’94) of Annapolis, Md.
Memorials may be made to Auburn University, College of Veterinary Medicine Auburn, AL 36849.