Tom ‘Red’ Martin, BC hockey star, businessman, philanthropist, dies at 79
Tom “Red” Martin played all but two minutes of Boston College’s Beanpot Tournament championship victory over Harvard in 1961, and his paltry time off the ice had nothing to do with wanting to take a breather.
An All-American defenseman who scored the game-winning goal that night at Boston Garden, he was whistled for a penalty, but still logged an astounding 58 minutes.
A senior captain for the Eagles, Mr. Martin was named Beanpot MVP and winner of the Walter Brown Award that season as the outstanding US-born Division 1 college hockey player in New England.
“Those were great days. The best days,” Mr. Martin told the Globe in 2001. “I always felt privileged that I played in the Garden for Boston College.”
Founder and chairman of the Cramer Productions marketing firm in Norwood, and respected for his philanthropy, Mr. Martin died in his Canton home Thursday of prostate cancer. He was 79 and spent winters in Jupiter, Fla.
Boston College retired the No. 15 hockey jersey Mr. Martin wore. He went on to serve as a BC assistant coach for three seasons under his mentor, John “Snooks” Kelley, and also was named to the 1962 US National and 1964 US Olympic teams.
While coaching, “Tom put it all in perspective about being a college student balancing academics with hockey, which was very helpful to me as a player,” said longtime BC hockey coach Jerry York, who played for Mr. Martin.
York added that when he was attending Boston College High, “I used to watch Tom play for BC. He had the skill to stop an attacker and then immediately go on offense so crisply and cleanly. He had an ability to control the game.”
Mr. Martin, who was only 2 when his father died, lived in church housing growing up in Cambridge. From third grade until his senior year of college he sold newspapers outside St. Peter’s Church to help support his family. He would play hockey Saturday night, pick up the newspapers at 5:30 the next morning, then attend 6:30 Mass.
“That was the foundation of who he was the rest of his life: the work ethic, the passion to help others in need, and the humility and dignity with which he carried himself,” said his son Shawn, of Westwood.
Mr. Martin, who sent handwritten thank-you notes, kept a framed quotation in his office that read in part: “Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain . . . or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”
He served on the boards of Aubuchon Hardware, Xaverian Brothers High School, Caritas Christi hospitals, Norwood Hospital, Massachusetts Hospital School, Oblates of the Virgin Mary, and Action for Boston Community Development.
Mr. Martin was honored numerous times, including with the 2008 Cardinal Cushing Medal for his leadership and generosity to community causes.
“Tom was the most special person I have known,” said Kathy Cronin, CEO of KMC Productions, who worked alongside Mr. Martin at fund-raising events. “He was especially a champion for children in need, and always went above and beyond through his acts of kindness.”
A former New England Amateur golf champion, Mr. Martin served on the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund executive committee and initiated a Martin Family Scholarship to benefit the fund.
“Tom had a great smile, a tremendous handshake, and boundless energy, and his people at Cramer brought our banquet and fund-raising efforts to a whole new level,” said Robert Donovan, the Ouimet Fund’s executive director.
Mr. Martin also produced acclaimed sports documentaries, including “The Story of Golf,” “Boston Red Sox: 100 Years of Baseball History,” and “Where Dreams Come True,” for the Beanpot tournament’s 50th anniversary in 2002.
Thomas Joseph Martin – nicknamed “Red” for his hair – was born in Somerville, the son of Thomas Considine and the former Anne Norton. When he was 12, his mother remarried and Mr. Martin took the last name of his stepfather, William Martin, a custodian in the Cambridge school system.
Mr. Martin graduated from Cambridge High & Latin School, where Snooks Kelley was on the faculty. He was accepted by Harvard and BC, “so it was a tossup,” Mr. Martin told the Globe in 1999. “Then Snooks got me into the teachers’ room and convinced me of the merits of a Jesuit education, which I never regretted.”
While playing at BC, Mr. Martin met June Tortorella on a blind date set up by a teammate, goaltender Jim Logue, and Logue’s future wife, Carina Sennott. Both couples were married in 1962.
When they were dating, June wanted to attend the 1961 Beanpot final. Mr. Martin picked her up at her Milton home, but the car had a flat on the way to the Garden. “Panic set in,” she told the Globe in 2001. Mr. Martin changed the tire and they arrived late to find Kelley “pacing back and forth at the Garden and asking, ‘Where’s Red . . . where’s Red?’ It turned out OK.”
Mr. Martin was also a first baseman on the 1960 and 1961 BC baseball teams that played in the College World Series. He was offered an invitation to try out for the Bruins farm team in Providence after the Olympics, but declined because he was making more money at his job as a CPA at Arthur Andersen & Co. in Boston. He quipped at the time that “you would have had to take boxing lessons in the summer” to play in the six-team, Canadian-dominated National Hockey League.
He left his job to work for an Andersen client, Cramer Electronics of Needham. When Arrow Electronics acquired Cramer, Mr. Martin purchased its audio/video equipment sales division, which became Cramer Productions in 1982. Six of his seven children are among the company’s 150 employees.
A past president of the Boston College Alumni Association, Mr. Martin is in the BC Varsity Club, Beanpot, Massachusetts Hockey, and Cambridge Sports halls of fame, and will be inducted in September into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
In addition to his wife, June, and his son Shawn, Mr. Martin leaves five other sons, Thomas Jr., Timothy, Christopher, and Gregory, all of Canton, and Patrick of Needham; a daughter, Julie, of Westwood; and 22 grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Chestnut Hill. Burial will be in Milton Cemetery.
Mr. Martin took up golf at age 25 and felt the game kept his family even closer because all six of his sons were caddies.
He held memberships at Ponkapoag Golf Club, Charles River Country Club, TPC Boston, Milton Hoosic, The Ridge Club, Woodland Golf Club, and Jupiter Hills Club. Mr. Martin won multiple club championships, and the state Father and Son title with Timothy. He also won the inaugural Eddie Lowery Division, for players age 55 and over, at the Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament, and he competed in various state and regional championships with Logue for many years.
“We have lost one of our greatest ambassadors,” said Massachusetts Golf Association executive director Jesse Menachem, “and our game has lost one of its heroes.”
Logue, Mr. Martin’s college classmate, said his best friend was “the fiercest competitor I have ever played with or against, while at the same time being the most sportsmanlike. His athletic prowess was outdone by his love of family and generosity of spirit, and he was an Eagle to the core.”