David Rolo Martin
David Rolo Martin

With both sadness and celebration of a life well-lived, we announce the passing of David R. Martin at 91 years young. His family and friends’ hearts ache to have lost the presence of such a great man.

David “Dave” was an energy industry leader since the mid-1950s, having earned his master’s in geology at UCLA after serving in the USAF during the Korean War.

Along with several other young geologists, he was hired by Armand Hammer and then helped build Occidental Petroleum (OXY) from a small drilling company in Bakersfield, California, to the significant international exploration and production corporation it is today, finally retiring as the president of OXY’s Oil & Gas Division.

David was a visionary leader who had a nose for finding new oil reserves, and for finding opportunity where others saw only obstacles. One of his discoveries was, and continues to be, the largest oil field in all South America.

He was passionate about his work and proud of helping to create value in the world.

He was among the best storytellers of all time, and considering his many international adventures and his skill in diplomacy and deal-making with foreign governments, his stories were the stuff of legends.

David was a devoted husband of nearly 68 years to Sarah “Sally” Martin, whom he cherished and loved deeply, and together they spent many years supporting the arts and assembling an impressive collection of California Regionalist painting, primarily watercolors of Depression-era California scenes.

He was an inspirational father to his two sons Jon and Mat and their wives Michele and Karen; a beloved grandfather to Sarah, Nathan, Anna and Leah; and a generous friend to many. He was fortunate enough to have his family living close by in Santa Barbara.

David died peacefully at home on Feb. 1, 2023 with family at his side after a 20-plus year battle with prostate cancer.

Born on May 9, 1931, he was a native Californian who liked to tell of his childhood growing up on a farm in rural San Fernando Valley catching crawdads in the free flowing LA River.

David will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and all who knew him. His legacy of success, hard work, generosity, love and compassion will live on in the hearts of those he touched.

A graveside service to celebrate David’s life will be held at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Arrangements entrusted to McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.