Fort Smith Trolley Museum Founder Dies at 95

Art Martin, a Fort Smith doctor who founded the Fort Smith Trolley Museum, died Sunday.

“He was somebody you wished you’d known,” his son, Bradley Martin said.

Martin, 95, and his wife, Amelia, helped start the museum in 1979 and it opened to the public in 1985. Amelia Martin died in 2004.

“He was a real good guy,” Loide Hardin, who volunteered at the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and was a family friend, said. “Everybody who knew him liked him real well.”

Martin was born in Greenwood in 1917 and was a battalion surgeon in the Third Army in World War II and received a Bronze Star in 1945. He practiced Internal Medicine until 1983 and was medical director at the Methodist Nursing Home for 25 years until he retired in 2003. Martin stayed active with the trolley museum that he loved, even after his retirement.

Conductors at the museum told 5NEWS that Martin would come up on Saturdays to write thank you cards, up until about  a month ago when his health took a turn for the worse.

“The last several weeks he’s had a lot of pain in his knees, legs and joints,” Bradley Martin said. “It was attributed mostly to his arthritis until he had a mild stroke a couple of weeks ago.”

Martin’s family took him to the hospital to find out what was wrong. That’s when doctors told Martin he had bone cancer.

“They had told him Saturday morning anywhere from 4 hours to 2 days,” Hardin said. “He lasted a little over another day. And that was it.”

Now, his family and friend are trying to cope with their loss.

“Things are always coming up where you say ‘Gee, I’ll ask Mom. Oh no I can’t ask Mom.’ I’m sure we’ll have the same thing now with Dad,” Bradley Martin said. “The holidays won’t be the same.”

“He’s going to be missed a lot,” Hardin said. “Everybody that knew him is going to miss him. They’ve already been missing him since he hasn’t been able to come down [to the museum] for the last month or so.”

Martin was an avid historian who also served as a board member for the Clayton House and the Oak Cemetery Commission. He is survived by four children and their spouses, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

“He will be greatly missed,” Bradley Martin said.

Martin’s funeral will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at South Side Baptist Church in Fort Smith. His family requests donations in Martin’s memory be made to the Fort Smith Trolley Museum.

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