Dr. Martin Plone

Dr. Martin Plone has spent his life as a successful veterinarian, an advocate for victims’ rights legislation, and a loyal Washington State University Cougar fan. Now he’s decided to give back.

Photo of Martin with a dog on an exam table.

While enjoying his retirement with a tour around the United States and Canada, he has visited WSU more than once, most recently to give $100,000 to the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Richard L. Ott Endowment. His feelings for WSU, in general and the veterinary college, in particular, are an outstanding example of the generous enthusiasm Cougar alumni are noted for.

“I’m very grateful for the education I received at WSU,” says Dr. Plone of his time in Pullman. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1963 from WSU, he went on to the CVM, from which he graduated in 1967. After graduation, he spent two years in the United States Air Force in Japan, working mainly in the area of public health but also taking care of pets and sentry dogs on the base.

Upon his return to the US, Dr. Plone went to California, practicing first in Berkeley and then in Livermore. Only five years after his graduation, he set up his own American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) certified practice in a storefront in Livermore. He bought a lot and built his own building for the thriving small animal practice in 1979, where he stayed until he retired in September of 2000.

Retirement for Dr. Plone has not meant staying at home or not working anymore. Although he sold his practice, he has remained active in legal circles promoting mainly criminal restitution laws, a field in which he is well known in California as a self-made expert. He reports that he works “a lot with the legislature and Attorney General’s office developing and reviewing bills about victims’ rights,” a subject that has been important to him for many years.

He spends much of his time traveling the western U.S. and Canada. One stop has been the world-renowned WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital which he found to be very impressive. “When I toured the new teaching hospital,” he reports, “I was overwhelmed by what they have done there. They couldn’t have a better facility.”

While he was in Pullman he worked out some of the details for his veterinary class’ thirty-fifth reunion, scheduled for Homecoming Weekend 2002. After realizing some time before the visit that his class had never had a reunion, Dr. Plone set out to organize one himself, with help from the CVM. He has convinced an impressive twenty-six members of his thirty-seven member graduating class to attend, and plans a tour of the teaching hospital, a reception, a banquet, and, of course, a trip to the football game. “When your alma mater goes ten and two, life just seems a little better,” said the loyal Cougar athletic fan of this year’s season.

Over the years, Dr. Plone has never forgotten where he got his training. Before his most recent gift, he’d previously donated several thousand dollars to the college. He was recently inspired to give more when he heard about the Dr. Richard L. Ott Endowed Chair in Small Animal Medicine and Research.

“Dr. Ott was my mentor and my hero as he was to so many others, too,” explains Dr. Plone. “He was a unique man and was the glue that held the WSU veterinary college together. He was the man who attracted great veterinarians to Washington State University.”

The $100,000 Dr. Plone donated will help the endowment, “bring someone else of national or international prominence to WSU,” he says. He is quick to note, too, that “the money I donated to the Ott Chair is as much a tribute to the other faculty who were there when I was a student as it is to Ott.” Those other three small animal faculty members to whom Dr. Plone refers are Dr. Ghery Pettit, Dr. Jack Robinette, and Dr. Jack Alexander, all three of whom, Dr. Plone points out, chose to stay in Pullman even upon retirement. Dr. Plone also emphasizes, “Another reason I decided to donate $100,000 is because I was very impressed with Dean Warwick Bayly.”

Dr. Plone’s donations will not stop here, though. He has also arranged a bequest to the college, to establish the Dr. Martin H. Plone Endowment. Half of the money in the endowment will go to companion animal research, and the other half will go toward student scholarships. The scholarships are very important to him, as he is particularly concerned with the cost of veterinary education today.

“When I went to Pullman 35 years ago, you could work your way through college and not graduate with very much debt,” he said. “Today, I can’t conceive, how graduates can pay off the enormous debt incurred with after tax income.” His response to this problem is to, “realize that it is up to the alumni to donate and keep putting our kids through college.”

“As I’ve reached the twilight of my life, I’ve come to realize the only value of money is in the good that it does in bringing joy to others,” he said.

Such dedication to a school must stem from a remarkable experience, and Dr. Plone certainly emphasizes that that is exactly what WSU provides.

“I’m very grateful for the education I received at Washington State University,” he says, “and for a career in veterinary medicine that was very rewarding. WSU grads are well thought of around the country.”

In the end, Dr. Plone sums up his support of the university and the College of Veterinary Medicine, both monetarily and in the stands at Martin Stadium, in a few simple words: “I just have a strong affection for Washington State.” Dr. Martin Plone’s words are powerful, and his actions certainly echo and amplify those statements, speaking of love and appreciation for the institution that shaped his career and his life.

Give to the “Martin H. Plone Scholarship Fund