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Lake Barrington man who led comfort dog response team dies of COVID-19

Rich Martin with his two Golden Retrievers. | Provided photo.

A Lake Barrington man, who was known nationwide for leading a group of comfort response dogs for those in crisis, has died from complications of COVID-19.

Richard M. Martin, 68, of Lake Barrington, died on December 3 at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.

“It is with deep sadness that Lutheran Church Charities shares that our brother in Christ, colleague, and friend Rich Martin has gone home to be with the Lord – a fact that we also rejoice!” Lutheran Church Charities said.

Martin was retired after 35 years from a corporate career before joining Lutheran Church Charities.

He held several positions in the organization, which is a non-profit based out of Northbrook, including being the canine deployments director.

Martin led the response across the country in deploying comfort dogs during crisis and disaster, Lutheran Church Charities said.

Martin and his wife were at the scene within 24 hours of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing with their two comfort dogs.

They also responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead in 2012.

The non-profit said that Martin led 16 major crisis canine deployments in total across the United States along with hundreds of emergency responses and site visits.

Martin was admitted to the intensive care unit at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital on November 21 as he fought COVID-19. 12 days later on December 3 he was pronounced dead.

“Rich was a man of great faith and compassion, a faithful servant to everyone he came in contact with. Our prayers and support continue to be with our colleague and family member Dona, their daughter Sofie and her husband Marty, and their entire family,” Lutheran Church Charities said in a statement.