Fenton L. Martin Jr., a former partner in the Baltimore law firm of Whiteford, Preston & Taylor whose legal expertise was in business and financial law, died Wednesday from complications of a stroke at the University of Maryland Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chestertown.
The former Roland Park and Federal Hill resident was 89.
“I really think Fenton Martin was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known, and probably the most amazing lawyer,” said Daniel H. Honemann, a former partner who is now senior counsel at Whiteford, Preston & Taylor LLP. “He was very quiet but extremely nice.”
The son of Fenton L. Martin Sr., a railroader, and Marcia Penelope Martin, a homemaker, Fenton Lee Martin was born and raised in Portsmouth, Va., where he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School.
He was a 1949 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William & Mary, where he also earned a law degree in 1951 from its Marshall-Wythe School of Law. He also obtained a master’s degree in tax law in 1951 from Harvard Law School.
From 1952 to 1954, he served in the Air Force with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and attained the rank of lieutenant.
After being discharged from the Air Force, Mr. Martin clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Roszel C. Thomsen in Baltimore, then embarked on his own 50-year legal career.
In 1964 he married Jane Ann Garrette.
Mr. Martin worked with Hinckley & Singley, a firm that later became Clapp, Somerville, Black & Honeman and eventually merged into Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP, where he was named a partner.
Early in Mr. Martin’s career, he argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and enjoyed showing off a white quill pen which he had framed and hung in his office — a traditional souvenir given to lawyers who were admitted to practice before the high court, family members said.
At Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, Mr. Martin’s expertise centered on financial and business law.
“If I had a problem too complicated for me, such as a federal case, I’d turn to Fenton, who would take care of it or write it up. Taxation law was one of his strong points, but he did more trial work than tax work,” Mr. Honemann said.
“He was amazing when trying a case,” he said. “He would explore every single defense that could be brought against us and would determine more than they ever did.”
“Fenton was probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever known in my life,” said Fred Singley Koontz, a former partner at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP who is now senior counsel to the firm. “He handled complex commercial litigation.”
He retired in 1997.
Mr. Martin and his wife enjoyed spending weekends, summers and holidays vacationing, with their two children, in Betterton and later Chestertown. They settled there after his retirement.
In addition to the Maryland Bar Association, he was a member of the Lions Club.
“One of his hobbies was arranging an iTunes music play list each evening,” said his wife, a former Baltimore County public educator who retired from Lansdowne Middle School.
An avid golfer, he was also a member of the Chester River Yacht and Country Club.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 30 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 7579 Sandy Bottom Road, Chestertown.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Martin is survived by a son, Roderick Lee Martin of West Hartford, Conn.; a daughter, Elizabeth Ann Vallarino of Panama; and six grandchildren.