MARTIN DARITY

Obituary
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Martin Joseph Darity, 84, of Montgomery passed away peacefully at home on August 9th. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Betty G. Darity, daughter Katie D. Espy (Joe), grandsons, Benjamin Joseph Espy (Cameron), William Martin Espy (Schuyler) great grandchildren Lulu Espy and Joe Espy, sisters Janie Townsend and Betty McNichols and brother Hugh Darity (Jeanelle) and a number of cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and special caregivers. Mr. Darity was born in Macon, GA on July 25, 1928. He attended Sidney Lanier High School, University of Georgia, Troy University and La Salle University of Illinois. Darity began his career in Public Relations in Eufaula, AL as the Manager of WULA Radio Station. Considered a father figure to all the young people in Eufaula, he was lovingly given the name "Big Daddy". He became the Director of Merchandising, Promotion and Publicity with WRBL TV and Radio in Columbus, GA. In 1967 he was appointed Director of the Alabama Bureau of Publicity and Information, serving in this cabinet position for both Gov. Lurleen Wallace and Albert Brewer. When he discovered there had never been a U.S. Flag made when Alabama came into the Union as the 22nd state, Mr. Darity designed a flag with 22 stars and had it flown over the U.S. Capitol to make it an official flag. It is now in the Archives and History Building. He was also responsible for the Circle of Flags flanking the State Capitol where each of the 50 state flags fly. Mr. Darity contacted all the states and collected all of the flags and native stones, designing this tourist attraction and bringing tourist from all over the U.S. to Alabama. Under his leadership Alabama was selected as the "Best Promoted State in the Nation". In 1970, he moved to Washington as the State-City Coordinator of the U.S. Department of Travel with offices in Washington and abroad to develop the "Visit U.S.A." National Program. During his tour of duty he received recognition for his work in the promotion of tourism from every State in the U.S. He also was head of all the State and National Parks and served on the matching funds committee for the U.S. Treasure Dept. He organized the largest ever travel show on the U.S. with more than 30,000 visitors attending the 5-day show in London, England. In 1982, he was appointed by President Ronald Regan as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Tourism Marketing with the U.S. Travel and Tourism Admin. He organized the first National Native American Tourism Seminar and the first Seminar on Travel Opportunities for the Handicapped. In 1996 he retired from the Federal Government after serving as Regional Deputy for Minority Business, Regional Advocate for the Small Business Administration and for the State of Alabama as the Governor's Liaison for the Alabama Advantage for Retirees and as Director of Public Relation for the Dept of Agriculture. During his long career in government he served four Governors and two Presidents, spoke in all 50 states and numerous foreign countries. Mr. Darity has served on the Boards of Goodwill, Landmarks, Ala., Crime Prevention, Ala., Hotel/Motel Assoc., Environmental Quality Council Ala., Beautification, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, served as Deacon of his Church and as President of the Montgomery Rotary Club where he was awarded by Rotary International the "Paul Harris Fellow" in appreciation for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world. He was one of the founders and the first Chairman of the State Delegation for the National Silver Haired Congress and was inducted into the Senior Hall of Fame. In 2006 was named Businessman of the Year by the Republican Congressional Committee. In 2007 he was inducted into the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame in recognition of his many contributions to the travel industry. He received the Golden Eagle Statesman of the Year Award, Who's Who in America and was recognized by the Travel Industry as "The National Authority" on Travel. Services will be held Saturday, August 11th at 3:30 at Leak Memory Chapel with visitation one hour prior. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the New Hope Primitive Baptist Church, 51 Carol Villa Drive, Montgomery, AL 36109.

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Published in the Montgomery Advertiser on Aug. 10, 2012
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