Longtime McMullen and Live Oak County rancher, T.J. “Tom” Martin, Jr. died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, October 30, 2023, at his La Campana Ranch residence. He was 88 years old.
Born in Poteet, Texas, on April 2, 1935, to Alberta and T.J . (Thomas Jefferson) “Jeff” Martin Sr., Tom moved as a child with his family from Christine, TX to George West to be nearer the “big ranch,” La Campana. The Campana was originally spread over three counties: Live Oak, McMullen and Duval. Smaller ranches, “The Lopez” in Atascosa County and “The Lawhorn” in northern McMullen, were at one time all run and managed by Tom and his dad. Tom graduated from George West High School in 1953. Anxious to see some of the country he attended college at Kingsville A&I, University of Nevada, Ohio Kent State and finally Oklahoma Baptist where he met his wife of 54 years, Jean (Jones) Martin. Daughter Angela was born in 1961 and son T.J. “Jeff” Martin III in 1967. A descendant of early McMullen County rancher, Zachariah Martin, (b. 1790, Louisiana) Tom Martin’s grandchildren are the sixth generation to reside in McMullen County.
In 1976, Tom ran for the Texas House of Representatives, District 47, serving two terms in the 65th and 66th Legislatures. He was one of the original advocates for the Santa Gertrudis Breeders International cattle association and through the years won numerous awards and much acclaim for his advancement and marketing of this King Ranch/South Texas “Americas original beef breed.” For a time, Tom observed and worked with Gus S. Worthham’s Nine Bar Ranch north of Houston, learning all he could about advancing the breed commercially.
Tom and wife Jean were great world travelers – scuba diving in the South Pacific, cruising the Nile, exploring European castles – they were both naturally curious and interested in all aspects of earth’s culture. An avid reader Tom took a great interest in architecture, history and of course avidly following his favorite basketball, baseball and football teams. He was a “Tall Texan” who carried himself confidently with humility, honor and a wry sense of humor.
He was a loving father and husband who took special pride in his grandchildren, T.J. and Ray. He is preceded in death by his wife, Jean; mother and father; and sister, Alberta “Bette” Mason. He is survived by his close family - Angela Martin, Chantel Foretich, Jeff Martin III, Melaine Martin, Jamie Locke, Glenda Locke, TJ Martin IV and Ray Martin. Numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and acquaintances share in the passing of this kind and thoughtful man who affected so many lives through his generosity and quiet compassion.
A private family memorial service will be held at La Campana Ranch.
Memorial donations may be made to the Dobie-West Performing Arts Theater in George West.
“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.” – Helen Keller