By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Dr. Richard Martino, or “Dr. Dick” as his patients affectionately address him, will retire from his optometric practice Sept. 15 after 38 years. Martino, who is the chaplain for the Northborough Fire Department and assistant campus minister at Assumption College, has decided to pursue an opportunity for full-time ministry in the church.
Martino, 65, grew up in Marlborough and attended Worcester Junior College for two years and then went on to Massachusetts College of Optometry (now called the New England College of Optometry). There, in 1972, he earned both a Bachelor of Science in Optometry and a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.). Prior to graduation, in 1971, Martino joined the U.S. Navy. He retired in 1998 as a captain in the United States Navy.
“I had the opportunity to stay in the Navy,” said Martino, “but chose to leave so that our girls could have the roots we had and it worked out because everybody is close by.”
Martino and his wife, Pearl – the secretary at St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Boylston – planted their roots in Northborough in 1975 where they raised two daughters, Carla and Tracy. Carla (McAuliffe) is the previous town accountant for the town of Southborough and is now employed as an accountant for the Wayland School Department. Tracy (DeBlois) is a music teacher at the Floral Street School in Shrewsbury. Carla's husband, John, is the physical education teacher at Marguerite E. Peaslee School.and Tracy's husband, Bill, is a pilot for US Air. Carla and John blessed Martino and his wife with a beautiful granddaughter, Mia Catherine, who is now 12, and a student at the Robert E. Melican Middle School.
When Martino moved to Northborough he went into practice with Dr. Bob Rowe, a family friend and fellow optometrist. After six months together, Martino bought the business and has practiced at his home office on West Main Street ever since.
Martino has what he calls an innate desire to help others.
“I learned how to be compassionate from my parents. It has always seemed natural to help people,” he said. “I became an optometrist to help people – there is a lot of ministry in medicine.”
In 1996, Martino began classes at St. John's Seminary in Brighton and was ordained on Sept. 9, 2000, as a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church.
The next year, Martino was named chaplain to the Northborough Fire Department. As a caplain, he helped to establish the Corps of Fire Chaplains to serve the commonwealth of Massachusetts under the office of the State Fire Marshal Steven Coan. The organization ministers to firefighters and families who have suffered tragedies.
“I will never forget the Worcester Cold Storage Fire on December 3rd of 1999 ” said Martino, who was the first chaplain to be assigned to a family after the tragedy. “It was then that I met Mary Jackson who had lost her husband, Tim, in the fire. She had such dignity. We are still friends today.”
In 2012, while still maintaining his optometric practice and serving as chaplain to the Fire Department, Martino became Assistant Campus Minister at Assumption College in Worcester. As part of the Campus Ministry Team, he helps members of the Assumption College community grow in their faith throughout their time on campus.
Martino is a dedicated community volunteer and a former member of the Northborough Lions Club. Just last year he was the recipient of the club's Community Service Award local and District 33A level.
Martino sees his retirement from optometry as an opportunity to pursue more time in ministry in the church.
“I have labored over this decision for quite a while,” he said, “and it feels like the right time. It has been a wonderful career and I have been very blessed to serve generations of patients. I plan to continue at Assumption working with the college kids and possibly work in a church as a pastoral assistant.”
Martino may be closing his office, but he is following his “vision to serve others.” ?Following the Sept. 15 office closing, Dr. Nick Kofos of Kofos Family Eye Care will be maintaining Martino's records. Kofos is located at 180 Bolton St., Marlborough, and can be reached at 508-485-0736 or 508-393-2416.