This winter photo of the Santa Fe Plaza in the mid 1940s is by my dear friend Robert H. Martin. I was fortunate to have been his friend in the early aughts. Back in 2006 I published the biography of Concha Ortiz y Pino, who happened to be related to Bob by marriage. Concha’s sister, Mela, married Bob during his time as the official photographer of the Manhattan Project during World War II.
When WWII began Robert H. Martin joined the army and became the photographer for the Zenith Radio Corporation, one of the major defense contractors for the government. In 1946 the Los Alamos National Laboratory hired him as the official photographer of this nation’s top-secret nuclear projects. The Chicago native married Manuelita Ortiz y Pino, a member of one of New Mexico’s most prominent Hispanic families. In addition to his work at the Lab, he spent decades documenting Santa Fe culture and history.
Radiation-Exposed Cancer Survivor
Robert H. Martin retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1970s when he came down with cancer. Years of radiation exposure had taken its toll on the Martin. He is believed to be one of the longest survivors of radiation-exposed cancer in New Mexico. He died in Santa Fe in 2004 at the age of 83. Martin took this self-portrait shortly before his death.