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Published: Friday, 3/2/2012

Robert E. Martin, 1928-2012: Retired architect cherished artist touch


Robert E. Martin, an architect and a founder of the Collaborative Inc. who, away from the firm, remained active as a consultant, artist, and raconteur, died Tuesday in Sunset of Sylvania, where he and his wife, Kathryn, lived in supportive care. He was 83.

He had a stroke in May, 2011. He could no longer paint, yet he continued to attend the every-Tuesday meeting of the exclusive painting/dining/socializing Tile Club until three weeks ago, "just to be able to sit and sing," said Bob Lubell, a friend and Tile Club member. "Bob certainly treasured friendships, possibly over everything."

A fellow of the American Institute of Architects, he left the Collaborative in 1993 at age 65, as the firm's rules required. He called retirement "repotting": "taking myself out of one arrangement and putting myself into another arrangement," he told The Blade in 1993.

He was a consultant to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's building and renovating campaign that included expansion of the Main Library.

"Bob was a guardian angel through the whole process," said Charles Oswanski, the library system's superintendent of facilities and operations. "He worked at an almost philanthropic rate for the work he did."

Mr. Martin kept to a routine, his son, Blaine, said. Every weekday morning, he went to his studio to paint. Later in the day, he exercised at the Toledo Club.

In recent years, his name most often was in the news when area galleries -- or the Toledo Area Artists' Exhibition -- showed his watercolors of outdoor scenes.

He took part in the Monday Morning Painters' gatherings and was a past president of the Toledo Federation of Arts Societies. He was a regular at the University of Toledo's annual Art on the Mall: "Bob loved the opportunity to have an audience, to have a conversation, and especially a chance to have an appointment to paint," Mr. Lubell said.

He studied painting and drawing at McPherson College in his native Kansas and received a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati.

In the late 1950s, after stateside service in the Air Force, Mr. Martin came to Toledo and teamed with architectural classmate C. Thomas Schauder. In 1973, their firm, Schauder & Martin, merged with two others to form the Collaborative.

Mr. Martin's designs included such UT buildings as Parks Tower and the student recreation center -- "everything with the cleanest, simplest line possible," Mr. Lubell said. "He was in love with the art form of buildings."

Born in McPherson, Kan., he was an Eagle Scout. He was formerly married to the late Billie Jo Lange Martin.

Surviving are his wife, Kathryn, whom he married June 26, 1971; son, Blaine; daughters, Lynn Ufer and Dr. Amy Martin; sister, Bonnie Ward; five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 1-7 p.m. Sunday in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

The family suggests tributes to Holy Trinity; Heatherdowns Church of the Brethren; Erie Shores Council of the Boy Scouts; the Toledo or Reynolds Corner Rotary clubs; Library Legacy Foundation of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, or Toledo Museum of Art.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182

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