Dr. A.K. Martinolich - Good Neighbor
-by Pat Saik
Dr. A. K. “Andy” Martinolich, a Fourth Ward resident, has called Bay St. Louis home since he was in the sixth grade, when his family moved from Mississippi City. Hard work and dedication at St. Stanislaus won him the honor of being valedictorian of the class of 1946.
He recalls that “the Brothers were strict disciplinarians. I was afraid NOT to study.” While at St. Stanislaus he felt a need to be in a vocation where he could “leave the world a little better off. I considered becoming a priest but I couldn’t accept the celibacy,” he deadpanned.
Instead of the priesthood, he became a doctor, achieving board certification in family practice after training at Ole Miss and the University of Tennessee in Memphis. He recalls that Elvis Presley, born in Tupelo, Mississippi, just down the road from Memphis, was starting to become a sensation when Andy was in school in Memphis. He said people knew Elvis was in town when someone would spot Elvis’ pink Cadillac.
When Dr. Martinolich returned to Bay St. Louis in 1956 to set up a practice on Carroll Avenue, he was one of only five or six doctors in town. In those days, he made house calls, delivered babies (one with help from his wife Carol) and treated a myriad of medical conditions.
After some two decades of family practice, he came to know those he treated “not only as patients but as friends.” On Christmas Eve it became a tradition to visit elderly friends who had been former patients.
Mid-career, Dr. Martinolich returned to medical school to train in a new specialty—radiology—and he became board-certified in that specialty as well.
When growing up in Bay St. Louis, Andy’s family expected him to do household chores and earn wages at whatever job he could find. Among his many jobs, he delivered the newspaper for years, worked construction, and packed groceries.
Andy learned about hard work from watching his family. His paternal grandfather, knowledgeable in ship building, immigrated from Croatia to the Mississippi coast, attracted by a landscape akin to the coast of the Adriatic Sea which had been his home. Soon, his grandfather began his own business building wooden shrimp schooners at locations in Delisle and Handsboro. In those days, Andy recalls, business deals were sealed with no more than “shake-a-hand.”
But growing up on the coast wasn’t all work and no fun. Whenever time allowed, Andy was out in the sun, shrimping, crabbing or fishing, often from the St. Stanislaus pier. That pier, destroyed by a “monumental storm” in 1947, instilled in Andy an injunction—“don’t live on the beach!” True to his word, Andy and Carol reside off Old Spanish Trail, on Seube Street in a modern home designed especially to accommodate a large family. The couple has eleven children.
Carol was born in Texas but had family connections in Bay St. Louis. Her mother’s family, the Cabells, operated Perre’s Bakery on Main Street, and another location on Washington and Toulme. The bakeries catered to the special requests of their clientele. The Sisters of St. Joseph wanted a particularly-sized bread and everybody wanted French bread for making po-boys. Gingerbread made with butter, sugar and lard satisfied those with a sweet tooth.
Andy and his wife Carol were married in 1958, celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2008 at a “big to-do” where the entire family converged in Gulf Shores, Alabama for “forced family fun” as Andy said, his eyes twinkling. With the couple’s eleven children, 35 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, assuredly the Martinolich family were a beautiful sight to behold. A photograph from the event viewed from a distance could be mistaken for a group picture of a high school band, with row after long row of smiling faces.
Andy still abides by his family motto: “Do three things a day. Work. Pray. Study.” When one of his children expressed distress that play was not part of the package, Andy’s answer? “Playing comes naturally.”
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