Esteemed Indianapolis cardiologist Dr. Martin R. See '74 read his own CT scan in June of 2017 and diagnosed himself with liver cancer caused by a melanoma skin lesion he had been treated for the year before. He died three months later to the day, at the age of 65-one day after he had been scheduled to retire. In his memory, his widow Patsy See has established a Wabash scholarship in Martin's name that was awarded for the first time last year-and will be further endowed with a bequest in her will.
"My husband was grateful for the scholarship support he received at Wabash and proud of his Wabash roots," Patsy says. "He made lifelong friends with classmates and with faculty. He went back for reunions, and he was so proud that two of our nephews have attended."
Patsy says it was important to her to endow Martin's scholarship in perpetuity with a bequest-but also for it to start right away, so she is funding it with a five-year pledge. At some point in the future, she plans to launch a matching gift program to add to the endowment of her husband's scholarship-as she is doing this year at Butler University, her alma mater, to build up a scholarship honoring her dad, Robert E. Brennan, who attended Butler and later taught there. (She has also set up a scholarship honoring both her parents at the high school she attended in Warsaw, Indiana.)
Senior Keanan Alstatt was the first recipient of the Dr. Martin R. See '74 Scholarship, which gives preference to students in their junior and senior years who have declared a distinct interest in attending medical school.
Martin knew he wanted to be a doctor and met all the pre-med requirements at Wabash while majoring in biology, graduating cum laude-and making lifelong friendships with several professors, including Dr. William Doemel, who taught biology at Wabash for 42 years (1970-2011).
"Martin and I arrived at Wabash at the same time, the fall of 1970," Dr. Doemel recalls. "I was only about seven years older than Martin, and I quickly became friends with him and several other of his Kappa Sig fraternity brothers. Fast-forward to 2002: After experiencing a heart attack, I contacted Martin and asked if he would be my cardiologist."
Martin went to medical school at Indiana University, which Patsy also attended to earn a master's degree in speech and hearing science. She worked with hospital patients who had suffered strokes and head injuries while he completed his residency and cardiology fellowship at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. He eventually joined Northside Cardiology at St. Vincent Hospital and remained with that group as he practiced invasive and transplant cardiology.
"My dad and my husband were the two hardest-working people I ever knew," says Patsy. "My husband got up at 4 a.m. every day of his working life and regularly worked 80 hours a week. He was a physician, while my dad was a pharmacist and teacher. Their entire lives were spent helping people-and that needs to be honored. A scholarship honors their effort and also the content of that effort, which was helping others."
Martin was revered by his colleagues and his patients-dozens of whom wrote glowing condolences following his death. Dr. Doemel describes his first follow-up visit to Martin's office after suffering his heart attack.
"Although told at the ER that my heart hadn't been damaged, I was really scared," Dr. Doemel relates. "Martin entered the exam room and sat down on the stool and smiled at me. His smile was unique: While some would describe it as a wry smile, Martin was never mocking; his ever-present humor was subtle and self-effacing. He clearly and concisely explained my condition and assured me that I could fully recover. Medicine would help, but only I could change and thus heal. All of this I knew when I left his office. He had empowered me to act so that I would recover.
"We met quarterly, then semi-annually, and then annually. Our meetings were never rushed, and there was never a computer between us. I can picture Martin sitting across from me with that slight smile as we talked about Wabash, about life, and-incidentally-about hearts.
"He wrote to me when my son died from cancer, and he and other former students came to my wife's memorial," Dr. Doemel says. "He never told me that he, too, had the same cancer as my son. He loved photography, and his spirit remains in his photographs. He had much to share."
Martin was a gifted photographer who honed his craft by attending numerous photo courses. He was also an accomplished cook of Italian delicacies, a talented guitarist, a runner, a golfer, and active in local community theater as a lighting and sound technician.
Martin and Patsy were married for 37 years and had three children of whom he was very proud. He was also proud of his two nephews who have attended Wabash-Lucian William Lupinski '11 and Theodore "Teddy" Lupinski, who is currently a junior. And Martin loved being "Bopa" to four spirited grandsons.
"Nobody loved kids more than he did," Patsy says. "He initially wanted to be a pediatrician but found it too hard to deal with sick kids. And of course he had a knack for cardiology. But being a grandfather-that to him was reaching the pinnacle, the most important thing in his life."
And he made Patsy laugh.
"He was the funniest person I ever met, a pithy observer with a dry sense of humor who never cracked a full smile while joking," Patsy says. "Even in his last days, he never lost the ability to make me laugh."
Throughout his life Martin remained committed to Wabash, with regular gifts and regular attendance at reunions and sporting events.
"He went from a high school of 5,000 in Elkhart, Indiana, to a really small college at Wabash-and he thrived," Patsy says. "He loved being at a small school, he loved being in a fraternity, he loved the collegial atmosphere, he loved the friendships he made in the biology department, he loved the love of learning.
"Wabash and Butler are a lot alike: small, private liberal arts schools with exceptional teaching and exceptional student-teacher ratios. Truly extraordinary schools. I think of Wabash and Butler as throwbacks in a good way. They take teaching very seriously. They see it as not just their job but their vocation-to teach students and to make sure they learn, not just to present information and be done. And that is truly a gift."