Las Cruces, NM 88001
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James Martin Jr.

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James Martin Jr. Obituary
The Honorable James Thomas Martin, Jr. lived a full and complete life during his 86 years here on Earth. He died on Jan. 23, 2913 when unfortunately, his life came to a swift end after a brief illness. Jimmy was born on Aug. 16, 1926 in Nashville, Tenn. He grew up in the same home as his father James T. Martin, Sr. During his time in Nashville, Jimmy joined the Boy Scouts of America. He earned his patches and learned the skills to become an Eagle Scout. This experience instilled the love of outdoors and community service. During World War II he joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the USS Littlerock. The Littlerock was a light cruiser commissioned on June 17, 1945. During the initial shakedown cruise, the ship sailed from Newport, R.I. on Oct. 21, 1945 toward South America. She rounded Cape Horn and transited the Panama Canal before returning to Norfolk, Va. Because he was a member of the shakedown crew Jimmy was a "Plank Holder" on the ship. After World War II, the Littlerock was mothballed, but recomissioned during the Vietnam War. The ship underwent extensive remodeling and was refitted as a missile cruiser. Because of the extensive work and recommissioning, there are two sets of "Plank Holders" for this ship. The USS Littlerock is now a floating museum in Buffalo, N.Y. After World War II, Jimmy was honorably discharged and went back to school on the "G.I. Bill". He enrolled at the local college in Nashville known to many as Vanderbilt University. He graduated with a law degree in 1951. Jimmy worked in Nashville for several years before receiving a job offer in California. On his drive from Tennessee to California, a friend recommended he stop in Las Cruces to visit another Vandy graduate, Forest Sanders and his law partner, Rufus Garland. Jimmy stayed in contact with Rufus and eventually returned to Las Cruces in 1953 to work as an associate in the firm. That firm ultimately became Garland, Martin and Martin. Jimmy loved practicing law and looked forward to going to work every day. He would often give advice to young people, "Find something you enjoy doing in life, because if you enjoy it you will be good at it and you will be able to make a living." The law firm grew over time and in addition to Rufus Garland and Jimmy's brother Wilson, the firm included Bill Lutz, Charles Creswell, James Roggow, Steve Hubert and Mike Winchester. Many associates spent time with the Martin Law Firm and often sought the advice of the senior partner. He practiced law in Las Cruces until July 1981 when he was recommended by the Doña Ana County Bar Association to become a district judge for the Third Judicial District Court. He served on the bench for more than 16 years. One of his favorite mementos from his time on the bench was a T-shirt emblazed with "The Judge" given to him by the inmates of the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility for his work to help them with their educations, addictions, rehabilitations and life skills training. He was known by everyone who appeared before him as being tough, but always fair. His partner at the court and the "Guardian of the Gate" Kathleen Hamilton will miss him dearly. During his entire life Jimmy loved being outdoors. He would take weeklong horseback trips into the Gila Wilderness with friends Pat Campbell, Pat Dunning, Bud and Bobby Hettinga and Herb Greathouse, along with many others. He enjoyed hunting with his good friend Bud Crenshaw and Arvil Runnels. He hunted all over New Mexico and Colorado in search of deer, elk and mountain lion. He also enjoyed deep sea fishing with his friend Bill Barry in Guaymas, Mexico. While living on Lees Drive near the old Las Cruces Airport at Solano and Hadley, he discovered the joy of flying from his friend Bob Crawford. He bought his first airplane in 1957. He eventually worked his way up to being multiengine rated and owning a Cessna 310. Jimmy enjoyed flying with amigos Terry Bryan and Bill Moody. Shortly after moving to Las Cruces he was introduced to Patty Jane Griswold. On one of their first dates he flew her from Las Cruces to Palomas, Mexico for lunch. While eating and dancing to Mariachis at the Pink House Café, Patty told herself that Jimmy was a "keeper." They were married July 22, 1960. They loved and adored each other until Patricia passed away on Feb. 10, 1997. He was a firm believer in giving back to his community. He served on many boards, committees and was active in many charitable organizations. He especially enjoyed his time with the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Posse. He was an active member of the Masonic Lodge and even helped establish the Jornada Lodge #70. Jimmy was active in politics right up until his passing. He first ran for office in 1958 and was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. He helped in many state and local campaigns including serving as county chairman for his close friend Bruce King's successful runs for governor. In 1969 he was selected to serve in the New Mexico Constitutional Convention, which helped clarify and amend the New Mexico Constitution. He also served on the state Board of Education, state Board of Economic Development and the New Mexico State Highway Commission, where he met many friends. After retirement he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He traveled extensively, including driving his R.V. up the ALCAN Highway to Alaska and trips to Maine and Nova Scotia. He continued to ride horses, snow ski, and snowmobile until recently. He especially enjoyed making vueltas (trips) to the ranch with his dear friend Arthur Johnson. Jimmy was blessed to be able to spend the summer at his cabin in Bonito, N.M. with his friends David Morris and Robert Runnels. Born and raised to be a southern gentleman, Jimmy came to southern New Mexico, put on a cowboy hat, and never looked back. Las Cruces was his home and he loved it like a native son. The uniform that he wore, suspenders, hat and pickup truck were always accompanied by the lilting accent, gentle laugh and ready smile of the elegant southern gentleman. All that knew him will hold that image close forever. He was preceded in death by his mother Ruth, his father James, his sister Viola Mae, his hijstra Erma Anaya, and his wife Patricia. He is survived by his daughter Georgia (Salopek), son Patrick (Kirksey), daughter Lockie Sue (Machado), son Stuart (Kirksey) and son Jim T (wife Kristi). He is also survived by his brother Wilson (wife Jackie), his adopted daughter Cita and her father Salome Anaya and his current wife, Charlotte K. P. Martin, whom he loved. He has wonderful grandchildren, Anton and Rett Salopek, and Karina and Zachery Martin. He also has many extended family and friends that will miss him very much. Jimmy Martin touched and influenced many people's lives while he was here on Earth. He lived life as a profoundly loving man. He encountered the world with a smile on his face and arms wide open, ready to share a warm and hearty hug while asking, "How are you?" He never met an enemy nor turned away a friend. He enjoyed a quick wit and a good conversation. The world was a much better place while he was here and is diminished by his passing. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mesilla Valley Hospice or the . Services will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at 1 p.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 225 W. Griggs Ave, Las Cruces, NM followed by a celebration of life at the Martin Family Home. Arrangements by Getz Funeral Home and Getz Family Crematory, corner of Solano and Bowman Aves., Las Cruces, NM. 526-2419. To sign our local online guest book go to
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Jan. 30, 2013
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