Robert Wisner Martin

May 5, 1932 - December 20, 2017
Robert Wisner Martin

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Robert Wisner Martin, of Hendersonville, NC passed away on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 surrounded by his loving family at Mission St. Joseph’s Hospital in Asheville, NC.

Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1932, Bob began painting at an early age, eventually attending Pratt Institute for a semester after high school. He left Pratt to accept a job inking the ‘Red Rider’ comic book.

He entered the United States Army in 1952, during the Korean War, as an illustrator for the 6th Army training aides at Fort Ord, California and at the headquarters of the Army Language School, Monterey, California. Bob was honorably discharged from the Army in 1954 with the rank of Sergeant, E-5. He then worked as an apprentice for an architectural illustration firm for six months in Los Angeles, leaving to freelance in architectural rendering, a skill he continued to practice until a few years ago.

His public work, still extant, includes a fresco secco mural for the Church of Religious Science, Las Vegas. He illustrated the book ‘The Voice Celestial’ by Dr. Ernest Holmes, Dodd-Mead, publisher, in 1960.

Bob worked as an illustrator for Bob Jones University for 10 years (1974-1984), continuing freelance work as an architectural delineator as well.

After teaching himself the art of kiltmaking as a hobby, Bob became so accomplished that he began crafting Scottish kilts commercially in 1976. This led to his desire to know all he could about the history of the kilt and tartan. He began his research in 1982, both here, in Scotland, and at the British royal residence at Windsor castle. He authored a column “The Kiltmaker”s Corner” and the book “All About Your Kilt”. Bob was elected a fellow of the Scottish Tartan Society in 1983, and to the Guild of Tartan Scholars in 1993, being the only non-Brit to receive these Honors. After passing his craft to three gifted apprentices, he retired from kiltmaking in 1998. He continued to work as a consulting historian of the kilt and tartan until a year ago.

Bob taught Sumi-e painting and Palette Knife techniques at River’s Edge Studio in Asheville, NC, where he was named Artis Ameritus.

Bob is survived by his wife, Betty Carlson, and five children; Carolyn Ann, Rob MacCallum, Loran Shepherd, Lorna Keyes, and Dwayne Finley. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren, Angela Keyes, Kellie Upton, Robert Francis, Kyle James, Kathryn Louise, Sean Shepherd, Daniel Solomon, and Nina Keyes, and five great-grandchildren, Kinlee Hannah, Amber Keyes, Ashlyn Noel, Jacklyn Kaye, and Jordan Michael.

He will always be remembered by those who knew and loved him as a Loving Husband and Father, Master Artist and Kiltmaker, a Renaissance Man for all Seasons, as well as compassionate and giving to all he met.

A celebration of his life and the love that we all have for him for the ways in which he touched each and every one of our lives will be held in February 2018.

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  • December 29, 2017
    Bo Wood says:
    Bob worked frequently with my father Avery Wood, and dad thought the world of him. I will never forget as a young man walking in downtown Greenville with Bob, he naturally in a kilt, and getting catcalls and whistles from passers by. Bob just laughed, smiled and waved. I always thought his kilts were cool. I enjoyed every chance I got to see and speak with him over the years. He was a wonderful and incredibly talented man, and he will be missed. My heartfelt condolences to his family. Bo Wood.

  • January 02, 2018
    Peter MacDonald says:
    I have so many great memories of spending time with Bob, both at his home in SC and when he stayed with us in Scotland for 3 months whilst researching his book on the History of the Kilt. A man for whom nothing was too much trouble, we spent many an hour talking long into the night about tartan and Highland Dress. For many years the majority of the kilts he made were from tartan I hand-wove. He opened the eyes of many to their history and culture, a fine man, a good friend and a sad loss.

  • January 02, 2018
    Hank Grant says:
    My wife Linda and I knew Bob many years ago. We met at Scottish games at Grandfather Mountain, NC, and Stone Mountain, GA. I think he actually came to our home once in Atlanta circa 1982. He was a nice, kind person, and keenly interested in tartans and kilt making. I wove the tartan for a least one kilt Bob made for a friend of ours. Basically, Bob was the type of person who would endure any inconvenience to render a kindness or lend a hand to someone he could help. Although we lost contact many years ago, we have fond memories of Bob. It was interesting to read about his fascinating career and his extensive family.

  • January 02, 2018
    buddy player lit a candle:
    Lit since January 2, 2018 at 1:56:00 PM

  • March 04, 2022
    Sandra Hayes, Waynesville says:
    Betty, I remember watching Bob paint sumi-e in an hour with you at QuickDraw's annual benefit for art edu in Waynesville. He deftly created while we strolled, sipped, and marveled. You and Bob are founding artists of this WNC fundraiser, QuckDraw has become the art resource for Haywood County teachers and students to keep classrooms in supplies during times when art budgets are so squeezed. With your help, we help HS seniors with a QD scholarship for college art study. Sending you hugs and good wishes from the whole QuickDraw of WNC family.