Martin Tutt was a hard-working dedicated man. A loving husband and father
of three (3) children, he was also respected by his co-workers. Martin
Tutt worked 7 days a week to provide for his family. He always dreamed
of retiring in the mountains.
Martin grew up in Wichita, Kansas. In 1957, at the age of seventeen, Martin
Tutt joined the Naval Reserve. After graduating from high school in early
1958, he began regular active duty and was assigned to the USS Laws at
the\ Brooklyn Naval Yard in New York. In 1959, he was transferred to the
USS Los Angeles, which was drydocked at the shipyard in Long Beach.
The USS Los Angeles was scheduled to be the first ship with a guided missile
system, and major conversions and repairs were necessary to make this
possible. Workers in many trades worked side-by-side to prepare the ship.
Martin Tutt was an Electrician's Mate. He was responsible for the
maintenance and repair of the electrical equipment on board. After the
conversion was completed, the USS Los Angeles sailed to Japan, the Philippines,
Hong Kong, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy, Martin Tutt went
to work for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach as an insulation
electrician. During his 27 years at McDonnell Douglas, Martin was an outstanding
employee. He had an excellent safety record and received numerous letters
of accommodation. Respected by his fellow workers, he was the "go
to" man when his co-workers had questions. Martin often worked 12
hours a day for weeks on end. He wanted to provide for his family the
needs and comforts that he never had as a child.
Throughout his life, Martin had very few health problems. But on October
31, 1993, Martin's wife Louise rushed him to the emergency room. Martin
could not breathe. The doctors first diagnosed him with pneumonia. When
he did not improve with antibiotics, Martin returned to the hospital.
Martin was hospitalized, and two and one-half quarts of fluid were drained
from his right lung. The fluid was sent to the laboratory for analysis
and cancer cells were found. Chest films and a CT scan showed evidence
of a right pleural effusion with a pleural nodule.
A biopsy was performed. The biopsy suggested adenocarcinoma, and Martin
was scheduled for exploratory surgery. The pre-operative plan was to remove
the tumor from his right lung. However, when the surgeon saw numerous
clusters of tumors covering Martin's right lung, he realized that
all of the tumors could not be removed. Tissue samples were taken, and
after surgery, Martin and his wife were given the grim diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Martin Tutt insisted that his doctors be truthful with him and give him
the facts about treatment options, including chemotherapy and radiation.
Understanding that there was no cure, Martin consented to chemotherapy,
hoping that it would slow the growth of the tumors. After 4 cycles of
chemotherapy, the tumors continued to grow. Martin received another 3
rounds of chemotherapy.
Matin Tutt, post treatments
Unfortunately, the chemotherapy made Martin violently ill. He lost his
appetite. He lost weight. He had to force himself to eat. Martin said
that after chemotherapy everything changed, including his taste buds,
hearing, and eyesight. He lost feeling in his feet and hands. He also
experienced a kind of euphoria. Hallucinations made it seem like nothing was real.
Even so, Martin was not ready to give up on modern medicine. In his view,
doctors and cancer research scientists were finding new cures every day.
Martin said that he didn't mind "being the first one" to
try a new experimental drug or protocol. Anything to stay alive.
When his wife Louise also became ill and unable to work, the Tutt's
were forced to file for bankruptcy protection to save their home of 21
years. For Martin, this was an embarrassing situation. A financially frugal
person, Martin described the process of filing for bankruptcy, ".
. . like getting on your knees and saying uncle." He felt ashamed
because it was not something they would have done if he been able to work.
Martin Tutt loved life and struggled to stay alive for his wife and family.
He lived for 1 year, 2 months and 8 days after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
He died at his home on January 22, 1995.
I will never forget taking Martin's deposition in his home. It was
a hot day and the room was crowded with several asbestos lawyers. Despite
the heat, the pain and the grilling, Martin told his story proudly and
emphatically. This man served his country and his family with honor and
distinction. His daughter also joined the marines but at the tender age
of 22 was killed in a helicopter accident. He never sought sympathy or
hand outs. He was a problem solver, but mesothelioma is one problem that
even Martin Tutt couldn't solve.
POSTED JANUARY 29, 1999