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John M. 'Jack' Martin Sr.

John M. "Jack" Martin Sr. was a retired real estate broker who once was publisher of the Arbutus Times.
John M. "Jack" Martin Sr. was a retired real estate broker who once was publisher of the Arbutus Times. (Baltimore Sun)

John M. "Jack" Martin Sr. , a retired real estate broker who had been publisher of the Arbutus Times, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at his home in the Charlestown Retirement Community. He was 86.

Born John Melvin Martin in Woodlawn, he was raised in Catonsville on Egges Lane. He graduated from Catonsville High School in 1945.

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"He was out with his best friend Bob Taylor in 1948, and they ran into a [National Guard] recruiter who was looking for a few good men to find enough local men to start a Guard unit in Catonsville," said his son, Michael P. Martin of Catonsville. "They agreed to sign. ... They borrowed the sergeant's jeep and rounded up two dozen of their buddies from Woodlawn and Catonsville, just enough to meet the quota."

He said his father was the first to enlist in the new company of the 175th Regiment of the 29th Division. Mr Martin carried Serial No. 1 on the honorable discharge he received when he left the military in 1952. He rose to master sergeant and was an expert marksman and rifle instructor, his son said. He learned to shoot as a young man and brought home game for family dinners.

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Mr. Martin went into sales. He sold real estate and shoes and founded an advertising flier, Town Topics. He also sold ads for the old Catonsville Herald.

In 1958 he formed a newspaper partnership with Dr. Igor Lomsky, a captain in the Czech army who had recently fled the country. Mr. Martin became publisher of the Arbutus Times. He wrote a weekly column, "Rounding the Square," written in a folksy style and made a point of including names of local residents.

"My father said, "I always see the bigness in small things.' He wanted people to see their name in print," his son said.

As publisher of The Times, he was active in community affairs. In 1962, he joined the Catonsville Community College's Citizen Advisory Board. In 1970, he was named its president.

He also was active in the selection of the Wilkens Avenue site for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In 1973, Gov. Marvin Mandel named him to the Maryland Lottery Commission, on which he served with George P. Mahoney until 1975.

He and his partner sold the Arbutus Times to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in the mid-1970s. He then got his real estate license and sold homes through Henderson Realty. He later worked for Charles A. Skirven Inc. and was office manager and a broker of its Catonsville office at Frederick Road and Ingleside Avenue. In 1979, he was named a vice president of the firm.

"Most of his transactions in real estate happened on the golf course at the Rolling Road Country Club," his son said. "My father often played nine holes before he went to work."

The Skirven firm became O'Conor and Flynn, where Mr. Martin worked before establishing his own business with Dorothy Gary, Martin & Gary Realtors. He sold homes until he was 80.

He also developed homes on Neepier Road in Catonsville. He also bought a land parcel on Windsor Mill Road in Woodlawn that was later developed.

He served on the U.S. Naval Academy Review Board and was a past president of the Westowne Elementary School's parent-teacher association.

He was also active with local youth baseball.

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Mr. Martin was the 1971 Catonsville Citizen of the Year and led its Fourth of July parade. He lived for many years on Ridgeway Road.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Sterling-Ashton-Schwab-Witzke Funeral Home of Catonsville, 1630 Edmondson Ave.

In addition to his son, survivors include another son, John M. Martin Jr. of Severna Park; three daughters, Belinda 'Bindy' Quigley and Susan Aschman, both of Catonsville, and Kimberly Salamy of Bowie; a sister, Dorothy Ford of Easton; 16 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. His wife of 60 years, the former Ann Bockmiller, died in 2010.

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