Professor Ed Martin remembered as strong advocate for children and youth

February 26, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Edward A. Martin, a coaching legend who also fulfilled the roles of outstanding community leader, Vanderbilt professor and mentor to Nashville’s youth, died Feb. 25 at Centennial Medical Center from complications following back surgery. Martin, 75, was an associate professor of human and organizational development, emeritus, at Peabody College.

Visitation is scheduled Feb. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus. The funeral will be March 1 at 11 a.m. at Kean’s Little Garden on the Tennessee State University campus. Interment will follow at Veterans Cemetery in Pegram. Lewis & Wright Funeral home is handling the arrangements.

While Martin enjoyed numerous accomplishments as an athlete and coach, he always placed the greatest importance on his commitments to his family and the community. “I never wanted to be known as just a coach,” Martin said last spring during a reception in his honor at Peabody College. “I am an educator and a people person.”

Martin joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1989 after serving for four years as an assistant basketball coach under C.M. Newton. “Nashville and Vanderbilt have lost a unique, caring man who left his mark on this community and this University,” said Camilla Benbow, dean of Peabody College. “He quietly made a difference in so many people’s lives, whether teaching students how to give back to their communities or volunteering his own time with a number of organizations in Nashville. In every sense of the word, Ed Martin was truly a role model for all young people and brought much warmth to the campus.”

It’s only fitting that on his retirement from Vanderbilt last year, Peabody’s Human and Organizational Development (HOD) program named its community service award after Martin. “He was a symbol of community service and caring about people,” said Robert Innes, director of the HOD program. “This loss is felt deeply by the many people he has touched.”

Martin was born in Allentown, Pa. He earned his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina A&T University and a master’s degree from Temple University. In 1951 Martin joined the Philadelphia Stars, a team in the Negro American Baseball League. He played against Hank Aaron and many other future Major League stars, but a shoulder injury ended his promising baseball career.

Martin was honored as the winningest coach in basketball at South Carolina State as well as at Tennessee State University, where he coached from 1968 to 1985. He took six TSU teams to the NCAA Regional Tournament and won an Associated Press national championship at TSU in 1973.

Martin received numerous honors during his lifetime including the 1995 Human Relations Award from the Nashville region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The Ed Martin Academy, an alternative educational learning center at the Charles Davis Learning Center that serves at-risk Metro middle school students, was named in his honor in 1997.

Community organizations in which Martin volunteered included 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, United Way, Council of Community Services, Special Olympics, Jewish Community Center, Nashville Boys Club, and Edgehill Community Center.

Martin is survived by his wife, Ruth Martin, and their two children, Edward A. Jr. and Arnetta.

The Ed Martin Foundation for At-Risk Youth has been established by Martin’s family to continue his charitable work on behalf of young people. Those wishing to support the foundation may send contributions to P.O. Box 50427, Nashville, TN 37205-0427.

Contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, (615) 322-NEWS

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