January 25, 1910–June 16, 2003
BY DAVID R. BURT
BORN IN BOSTON AND educated at Harvard, Martin Larrabee showed signs of his New England background and upbringing throughout his long career. Mart was strong on character. He was hardworking, but not to excess, and persistent. Whatever he undertook was done thoroughly and properly. He did not believe in shortcuts; for instance, he disapproved of double publication of similar findings both in book chapters and in research papers, so that some of his students’ thesis work appeared in print only as part of chapters in symposium volumes. He was generally serious, but also was kindly and knew how to have fun, with a dry, understated sense of humor. He enjoyed making and juryrigging his own equipment, stayed in the lab as much as possible, and abhorred waste and sloppiness. He was a respected father figure and example to his graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. I was fortunate to be one of his students during and after his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1969 and, after my graduation in 1972, to be one of his many friends.
His scientific contributions dealt mostly with miniscule bits of tissue, sympathetic ganglia from rats, chick embryos, and other organisms. (Rat ganglia weigh about a milligram.)