This photo of women making scapulars at the USO in Santa Fe during World War II was taken by my dear friend, Robert H. Martin. Originally from Chicago, Bob embraced his new home of Santa Fe. He was an ardent photographer even when he wasn’t working. For more than three decades Bob worked in Los Alamos.
Zenith Radio Corporation
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. By 1946 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.
Casualty of War
Although Bob didn’t die documenting the Manhattan Project, he did die of brain cancer due to his exposure working at Los Alamos for more than three decades. Robert H. Martin retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1970s. Shortly thereafter, he received a cancer diagnosis from exposure to radiation during his time at the lab. Martin is believed to be one of the longest survivors of radiation-exposed cancer. He died thirty years after his initial bout with cancer in 2004 at the age of 83. Martin took this self-portrait shortly before his death