Dr. Lester Warren Martin

Dr. Lester Warren Martin

Wednesday, August 15th, 1923 - Friday, March 13th, 2020
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Dr. Lester Warren Martin of Bellbrook, formerly of Cincinnati, passed on March 13, 2020, after a courageous battle with congestive heart failure. Les was born on August 15, 1923, in Edwards, Missouri, on a small family farm in the Ozarks in the midst of the Great Depression. He wouldn’t have left the farm had it not been for the encouragement of a high school teacher who realized his potential. He encouraged Les to pursue a livestock judging competition that led to a scholarship to the University of Missouri. Les graduated, earned a second degree in veterinary medicine, served in the military in World War II and then pursued a career in medicine. He graduated from Harvard Medical School, where he met his wife and life partner Joan, and then trained at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, where he ultimately finished his training as a pediatric surgeon.

Les moved to Cincinnati and was the Chief of Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for 32 years. He was a pioneer in modernizing pediatric surgical techniques that are still used today. He trained surgeons throughout the world on his innovative method to perform surgery on children with ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. He developed a technique, that would later be named for him, for using parts of the small intestine to create a new reservoir for diseased colon and to preserve surrounding muscles and bowl tissue. The Lester Martin Pull Through Method eliminated the need for a child to use an ostomy bag. He also performed the first successful kidney transplant in Ohio, in June, 1965, and the child went on to live a full life.

The true measure of his work was the compassion he showed for his patients and their families. His humble ways earned him the respect of his colleagues and truly all who knew him. By the time he retired, Les had changed the lives of thousands of children and their families. He loved going to work each day, often working countless hours for weeks on end. When he wasn’t working, his passion was anything agriculture. He raised and showed champion bulls and was an avid gardener.

Les was preceded in death by his loving wife of over 65 years Joan Belanger Martin and his daughter Sally Martin Stewart. He is survived by his daughters Betsy (Mark) Smith, Susan (Al) Weinert, Janet (Stuart) Bertolino and his son David (Cindy) Martin, 13 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren, all of whom will miss his wisdom and guidance each day.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Cincinnati Childrens, 3333 Burnet Ave, ML 4900, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3026 ( You are also invited to send a condolence or share a story about Lester on his Online Book of Memories by going to and click on his name. Private Family Graveside Services were held.
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Private Family Graveside Services were held.


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Patricia Hayslip

Posted at 05:26pm
Dr Martin was my son's Dr from the time he was 5 days old . did several surgeries on him Jason Hayslip.


Posted at 03:48pm
I was so sorry to hear about the death of your father and grandfather. When I was first diagnosed with Ileitis in 1961 (before it was called Crohn's disease) I was a patient of Dr. Martin's at Children's Hospital.When I was recently asked to speak at our major fundraiser in Cincinnati about my experience with IBD, I shared a quote I had written in my scrapbook from 1961 when I was twelve years old... "My doctor is Dr. Lester W. Martin, a marvelous doctor who is a really nice person and a very handsome man! He is 38 years old. If it weren't for him I'd still be sick! I can thank him a LOT!!"
I know I am only one of thousands of children and whose lives were changed because of Dr. Martin.
My heartfelt appreciation and condolences to his family.


martin j bell

Posted at 11:51am
I was saddened to learn that Dr. Martin had passed away. I was his fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital 1970-1972. Those were among the best years of my professional life.He was not only a gifted surgeon, but an extraordinary teacher and mentor. A patient and gentle man, even when a procedure was not going well, his comment was never more that " For goodness sake", at which point the entire team knew that he was really upset. And when he would cut out a suture whih I had placed but that he did not like, he would apologize, as if he had made a mistake. His legacy goes well beyond his family and the many children he cared for himself, but also the tens of thousands of children treated by his trainees. My condolences to his family.
Martin J. Bell, M.D.

Rosine Casidy

Posted at 10:57am
I want to offer my sincere condolences to Dr Martin's family...he is very special to my family and I. I was one of Dr Martin's first adult patients to have the pull through surgery at Holmes Hospital in 1979. I was 23 yrs old. He was professional, kind, and very attentive. It was a blessing to have Dr Martin for my surgeon. The pull through procedure was the first of its kind, innovative and improved my quality of life tremendously. We will always be grateful to Dr Martin and his legacy will inspire others for years. Sincerely, Rosine Daoud Cassidy

Roberta E Sonnino MD

Posted at 06:08pm
Dr.Martin had a huge impact on my career, allowing me to spend time an entire summer on his service, as a senior med student from Italy. He then arranged a Pediatrics internship at CCH for me, so I could learn some basic pediatrics before embarking on my Pediatric Surgery training. He practiced what he preached, as his knowledge of medical pediatrics was such that he was a pediatrics floor attending a couple of months every year: the perfect role model for aspiring pediatric surgeons!

I will always consider him one of my most valuable mentors. My sincere condolences to the family: he was loved by many!

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