Sunday, October 13, 2002

Obituary: H. Gordon Martin

Built N.Ky. homes, businesses

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

H. Gordon Martin, a pioneer in Northern Kentucky development, died Thursday of pneumonia at St. Elizabeth Medical Center South in Edgewood. The Union resident was 73.

He was born in 1928 to Harry and Geneva Martin, who owned a foundry business in Ludlow. As a second son, he knew he would not inherit the family business and looked for other opportunities. He found a book titled How to Build a House for $3,500 and decided to try his hand at construction, building a small house in the area where the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport is now.

“He was a special man. He was particularly insightful, a visionary and quite clever,” said his son, Dr. Stephen Martin of Atlanta. “He always managed to persevere and see his way through. He loved Northern Kentucky and put the community's interests at the top of the list.”

Mr. Martin went on to own his own construction company. He built affordable homes, including houses for returning World War II servicemen. He later built subdivisions such as Ranchhill, Maywood and Cherryhill in Erlanger. He also developed a number of businesses such as the Ten-Pen Bowling Lounge, the Airport Inn and the Branding Iron.

He was a founding member and past president of the Kentucky Homebuilders Association and the Northern Kentucky Homebuilders Association.

Elected as president of the Covington-Kenton Boone Chamber of Commerce in 1968, Mr. Martin was instrumental in merging that organization with the Campbell County Chamber to form the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in 1969. He served as chairman in 1975.

Through the chamber, Mr. Martin helped coordinate the utilities project for the camping facility of Big Bone Lick State Park in 1969.

In 1972, he was appointed to the Board of Regents of Northern Kentucky University. In 1982, he was elected chairman of the board.Mr. Martin chaired a task force to save the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky in 1978.

In 1980, Gov. John Y. Brown appointed him to head the Northern Kentucky Economic Development Task Force. That same year, he was appointed to the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In 1985, Mr. Martin was appointed chairman of Gov. Martha Layne Collins' Sixth District Highway Task Force, which promoted the construction of a new highway, Interstate 275. In 1986 he was appointed to the Kenton County Airport Board.

Mr. Martin served on the board of Covington Trust Bank and Huntington Bank and was a member of the Erlanger United Methodist Church.

In addition to Dr. Martin, Mr. Martin is survived by his wife of 53 years, Thelma F. Spalding Martin; a brother, Donald W. of Florence; two other sons, Douglas G. of Covington and David W. of Union; and six grandchildren.

Visitation will take place 5-8 p.m. Monday at Erlanger United Methodist Church. The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church. He will be buried in Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell.

Memorials: American Lung Association, P.O. Box 9067, Louisville, KY 40209-0067, or Erlanger United Methodist Church, 31 Commonwealth Ave., Erlanger, KY 41018.


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