Tom Martin, hockey legend, business owner, dies at 79

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Tom “Red” Martin, a former U.S. Olympian and New England ice hockey legend who went on to excel both in the business world and in the game of life, passed away on Thursday, July 27, at the age of 79.

A longtime resident of Canton, Martin is perhaps best known locally as the founder and chairman of Cramer Productions, a marketing and brand experience agency headquartered just over the town line on University Avenue in Norwood. A true self-made man, Martin rose from humble beginnings in Cambridge to reach the pinnacle of success — not only in his professional career but also as an athlete, a philanthropist, a husband to his wife, June, and as a role model and mentor to his seven children and 22 grandchildren.

Tom Martin

Tom Martin

A three-sport standout athlete at Cambridge High and Latin School, Martin went on to play both ice hockey and baseball at Boston College in the late 1950s and early 1960s. On the Eagles hockey team, he was a two-time All-American defenseman; earned MVP honors and scored the winning goal in the 1961 Beanpot Tournament championship; and was named the winner of the Walter Brown Award as the top U.S.-born college hockey player in New England in his senior season.

On the baseball diamond, Martin was described as a steady left-handed first baseman and played on the Eagle teams that reached the College World Series in 1960 and 1961. He was later inducted into the BC Hall of Fame and his hockey jersey hangs in the rafters at BC’s Kelley Rink.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1961, Martin joined the U.S. National hockey team and he went on to serve as assistant captain for the 1964 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Innsbruck, Austria. The Americans, at that time, were not considered a global hockey power, but they competed hard en route to a fifth-place finish. While at the Olympics, Martin roomed with Herb Brooks, who went on to coach the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team that took home the gold in Lake Placid, New York.

Following his hockey career, Martin spent five years as a CPA at Arthur Andersen & Co. in Boston before taking a job as a corporate controller at Cramer Electronics of Needham. He was subsequently promoted to national sales manager, and in 1979, after the company was acquired by Arrow Electronics, Martin took out a loan and purchased the company’s video operations division, which he renamed Cramer Productions.

Under Martin’s leadership, Cramer, according to a profile on the company website, went from “selling audio and video equipment and making local car commercials to being one of the most well-regarded integrated marketing communications companies in the country.” In addition to relocating to a 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Norwood, the firm now boasts a team of 150 employees — including six of Martin’s children — as well as an impressive client list featuring major global brands such as UPS, Johnson & Johnson, and IBM.

The company has also produced several acclaimed sports documentaries, including New England Emmy Award winners such as Boston Red Sox: 100 Years of Baseball History and The Story of Golf, which was broadcast nationally on three different networks. Martin served as executive producer for many of Cramer’s top documentaries, and he was recently chosen for induction into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. One of nine inductees in this year’s class, Martin will be honored posthumously in September with the Hall of Fame’s Pioneer Award.

Besides his many professional and athletic achievements, Martin was also a proud supporter of numerous charitable causes, including the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the Mass. Hospital School, and Catholic Charities. In 2008 he was awarded the Cardinal Cushing Medal for his leadership and generosity to community causes, and in 2015, his company was named the recipient of the Peggy Simons Care and Compassion Award for its “commitment and extraordinary creative support” for Catholic Charities South.

Martin has also served on the boards of several local hospitals, schools and nonprofit organizations and was a past president of the Boston College Alumni Association. An avid golfer and former New England Amateur champion, he held memberships at several area golf clubs and won multiple club championships over the years.

In addition to his beloved wife of 52 years, June, Martin is survived by his seven children, Thomas Jr., Timothy, Christopher, Shawn, Gregory, Julie and Patrick, their spouses, and his 22 grandchildren.

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, August 1, in Saint Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill. Donations in Martin’s honor can be made to either Young and Strong Program for Women with Breast Cancer, Oblates of the Virgin Mary in Milton, or the Ouimet Society.

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