Howard L. Martin went home to his eternal family on Nov. 19, 2012, after 89 years. Two of his sons and a daughter in law were at his side with prayers of fair winds and calm seas on his journey ahead.
The measure of a man’s greatness is due in part to how much he will be missed. Though he has left many behind, Howard Martin, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend, will be remembered by all who lives he touched.
Born May 8, 1923, the ninth of 10 children to Roberta Barbee Martin and James Thomas Brazelton Martin, in Tilghman, Fla., a now-deserted phosphate mining town, Howard learned to swim in mining pools, catch fish and hunt alligators. Using his senses to smell and his 410, he would transport his ‘gators to a skinner on his bicycle. As recalled 70 years later by the daughter of the skinner, her mother would never let her leave the porch when “That Martin boy” walked up with his catch.
From his father, the Tilghman mine’s power engineer, he learned how to fire a boiler and “take the gauge to Boston.” At the age of 18 he enlisted in the Navy, May ’41, where he first traveled to Ireland as escort to the 1st Expeditionary Forces, returning to the U.S., then assigned to escort the USS Hornet with Gen. Jimmy Doolittle to Tokyo. His ship, USS Sturtevant was reassigned at the Panama Canal to patrol the Caribbean and only shortly after would be sunk off Cuba. He survived, floating in fuel oil and swapping places in life rafts over a number of days. In the next four years he would participate in 16 major battles on the destroyer USS Meade and aircraft carrier USS Bennington, the latter of which would accompany the USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay. His experiences were later documented on video by the US Naval Archives.
He worked as a Power Engineer retiring as Operations Manager of Rental Uniform. He was member of the National Association of Power Engineers for 30 years, serving as committee chair, vice president and president of the NJ Chapter.
His grandson is pursuing his Ph.D. to become the fourth generation of Martin engineers. Though engineering was his livelihood, it was not his life.
In a book written by his nephew Ron Martin, a chapter titled “The Loaner tells of Howard” as someone who would be “loaned” to family members and friends in need. He would live his life with an interest in helping others, often before being asked.
His service included serving as Committee Chair in re-establishing the Boy Scout Troop and Explorer Post at St. Albert the Great parish. He was a lifetime member of the St. Matthews Lions Club, joining in 1976, earning the national honor of the Melvin Jones Fellow Award.
He served eight years on the Jefferson County League of Cities and as Board Chair, president and vice president; served on the Cable Commission; and spearheaded the composting and recycling program in Jefferson County. He was Chair of the League’s Environmental Issues and Technical Advisory committees.
He was on the city council of Woodlawn Park for eight years before being elected to mayor, where he served for 16 years. He spearheaded flood control and served on the committee to widen Westport Road. At St. Albert’s he served as Minister of the Eucharist, Chair of the Worship Committee and Head of Ushers and Proclaimers.
Later in life, he would support Mary Hurst, Boys Haven and St. Joseph Children’s Home with the support and assistance of his son Howard, Jr. and the St. Matthew’s Lions Club.
He was preceded in death by his parents; nine brothers and sisters, and his wife of 56 years, Dolores West Martin; and is survived by his sons, Howard Jr. (Linda), Kevin (Arvin) and Brian (Cindy); and grandsons Tyler and Travis Martin.
His funeral Mass was Monday at St. Albert the Great, 1395 Girard Drive, Louisville, Ky., with burial in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville. Memorial donations in Howard’s memory may be made to the above mentioned Children’s charities.