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Harry Martin

1920 - 2015
Harry Martin Obituary
Harry Corpening Martin

Asheville - Harry Corpening Martin, 95, of Asheville, passed away on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at the Hospice Solace Center.

Born in Lenoir, NC, on January 13, 1920 to the late Hal C. and Johnsie H. Martin. He is preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Jacob and Charles; two of his sisters, Mary Macon and Virginia; and daughter, Nancy. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy D. Martin; his children, John, of Asheville, Mary, of Venice, Italy, and Matthew (wife, Catherine) of Cleveland, OH; his grandchild, Clarke, of Chapel Hill; and his sister, Lida M. Starnes (husband, O.E. Starnes) of Asheville.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1942, Martin served in the 13th Jungle Air Corp during WWII. Following the war, he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1948 and initially worked in private practice as a sole practitioner, and then as a member of the firm, Gudger, Elmore & Martin. Subsequently, he worked as a Superior Court Judge, a Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and then a Justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina until his mandatory retirement at age 72.

After his retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice Martin practiced law with his two sons in Hillsborough and taught at the UNC School of Law, Duke, and Elon Universities. Later, he was appointed to be the first Chief Circuit Mediator for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which was a position created for him, to assist in managing its burgeoning caseload.

When Justice Martin was 80 years of age, Leon Jones, the Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, offered Martin the position as Chief Justice to establish the Judicial Branch of their Tribal government. His work has been at the forefront of all Tribal Courts. For his accomplishments on behalf of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the Tribal Council made him an Honorary Member of the Tribe upon his retirement. He received numerous additional awards throughout his career, including the bridge at I-26 and Long Shoals Rd. commemorating his lifetime achievements. He continued teaching law until just a few years before his death.

Martin dedicated his life personally and professionally fighting for fairness for all people. While on the Supreme Court he was recognized as "the conscience of the court."

He was a member of the Pen and Plate Club, Caroliniana Society, NC Bar Assoc., Buncombe County Bar Assoc., Biltmore Forest Country Club, the Cathedral of All Souls, and served on a committee for the Veterans Memorial in Asheville.

The Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, May 9th, at 10:30 am at the All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village. In lieu of flowers, the family would request that any donations be made to: the All Souls Cathedral Building fund, the UNC School of Law, or to Care Partners Hospice in Asheville.


Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on May 6, 2015
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