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In Memoriam: Martin Pion

On-Road Bicycling & Clean-Air Advocate


[Note: ‘Letter to the Editor’ published ( )  in the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” (3-31-18)]:

Campaigner for clean indoor air will be missed

This past Monday night, a good friend passed away. Martin Pion was not just a good friend to me; he was a good friend to most of the people in the St. Louis area.

Martin, who had lost a sister to lung cancer, tirelessly worked to reduce the impact of tobacco, and particularly secondhand smoke, on people in the area. He worked as an engineer for McDonnell Douglas and was in a bullpen-style office with many smokers, back when it was legal to smoke in offices.

He campaigned with an organization he had founded, MO GASP (Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution), to work for clean indoor air. One of his particular targets was smoking in airports. He also worked with others to help pass the St. Louis County Indoor Clean Air act, benefiting thousands of local residents.

Martin learned he had Stage 4 lung cancer last fall. He never smoked.

He will be missed.

Charles Gatton

Ballwin, Missouri


As a fellow on-road bicycling advocate, and founder of MoGASP (Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution), Martin Pion was a long-time friend…we first met in 1980.  Right up until his untimely passing, Martin's advocacy efforts were tireless and literally ceaseless.  -- Bicycle Bob Soetebier


Martion Pion’sThink Bicyclingblog:


An Example of Martin Pion’s Bicycling Advocacy... “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” (12-3-12):

Ferguson street signs mark safety advance for bicyclists



Martin PionCondolences(as of March 29, 2018):

March 29, 2018


Mr. Pion often spoke with editorial writers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I was one who had the opportunity and pleasure to talk with him about the perils of smoking around other people. He was dedicated to his cause, and I think he prevailed in his efforts over the years. He made a positive contribution to our society here.

Repps Hudson,

University City, Missouri



March 29, 2018


I have many fond memories of Mr. Pion. He insisted that I address him as Martin. However, it was difficult to do that because I had so much respect for him. He was a well-known, well-liked, regular at County Council meetings and would sometimes bring candy.

He will be missed! ….

Hazel Erby & Family
Councilwoman - St. Louis County

Hazel Erby,

University City, Missouri



March 28, 2018

I had great respect for Mr. Pion. To read of his passing hit me with great sadness! I will miss him.

Bill Hannegan,

St. Louis, Missouri



[Note: The following excerpt appeared in the ‘Along For The Ride’ column by Mark Schlinkmann ( ) in the Monday, April 9, 2018, edition of the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch.]:

Bike, smoke-free advocate dies

Martin Pion, a tireless crusader to make St. Louis Lambert International Airport smoke-free and a fervent bicycling advocate, died of lung cancer March 27 at his home in Ferguson.

Pion, 81, was a nonsmoker whose Lambert campaign was part of his efforts over the years to bar smoking in public places in general.

He and the small organization he headed, Missouri GASP (which stands for Group Against Smoking Pollution), started pressing the Lambert issue in 1993 with St. Louis and St. Louis County officials.

That included, among other things, filing an American With Disabilities Act discrimination complaint against the airport on behalf of two people considered smoke-sensitive. Lambert finally went smoke-free in 2011.

“He was really happy about it,” his widow, Joyce Pion, said. “It was an achievement.”

She said there had been a “fantastic change in attitudes toward smoking” in the years since her husband first got involved in the issue in 1980 when he was a technical specialist at McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing).

She said he worked then in a fairly large room in which some fellow employees smoked. “The smoke would waft from one end of the room to another,” she said. “He found it very unpleasant.”

Pion’s advocacy of getting people to use bicycles for transportation was aimed at improving the environment. For years until his retirement from McDonnell Douglas in 1991, he commuted by bike to work.

His activity over the years included heading a program in Ferguson to get people to bike to work or college and another to promote bicycling among fifth-graders there.

He also wrote various Post-Dispatch op-ed articles on his two favorite subjects, produced a bicycling blog and had articles published in the Institute of Transportation Engineers journal.

Pion grew up in England and never lost his British accent; he had a bachelor’s degree in physics and math from the University of London. His wife said they moved to the United States in 1977 when he was transferred by his employer at the time, ITT, to work at a company facility in Virginia.

Among other survivors are his son, Jerome Pion of Clayton, and two grandchildren.