The Crooked Lake Review

Spring-Summer 2007

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In Memory of

John H. Martin


Bill and Martha Treichler

Jack Martin died at home on Thursday, September 6, 2007. He was 85 years old and is survived by his wife, Phyllis, a son, Todd, in New York City and another son, Scott, daughter-in-law Katherine and two grandsons Alex and Jeremy all in Aspen, Colorado.

He was born in New York City and, while going to Brooklyn College, worked summers as a copy boy at the New York Times. His college attendance was interrupted by World War II. In the Army Air Force he worked in London, Wales and Norway as a cryptographer deciphering codes. After the war he completed his undergraduate work at Brooklyn College and went on to earn a masters degree at Columbia University and a BD and PhD from the University of Chicago. While there he met Phyllis Greife, a fellow student. They married in 1953 and moved to Wilmington, Ohio, where Jack taught at Wilmington College.

Jack Martin was hired in 1958 as the first faculty member at Corning Community College and taught humanities courses. He was the founding director of the college library and helped design the new library at the Spencer Hill campus.

In 1964 he studied Chinese and Japanese civilization at Columbia and then taught about Japan for years at Corning Community College and the Graduate School at Elmira College. Jack and Phyl made ten extended trips to Japan and wrote a series of cultural guides to the cities of Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo. He was working on a fourth guide at the time of his death.

When the library collection of the Corning Museum of Glass was seriously damaged by flood waters in 1972, he offered temporary space at the college library. He was asked to join the museum in 1973 and became Director of the Rakow Library at the Corning Glass Museum. For 15 years he was editor for all publications of the Corning Museum of Glass including the Journal of Glass Studies which is published in four languages.

He has also been Acting Director of the Corning Public Library as well as a member of the library board, and president of the “Friends of the Library.” Jack was a co-founder of the Corning Area Bi-racial Committee that overcame local discriminations, and he was president of the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society.

Both Phyl and Jack were very personally involved in the restoration of the 1796 Benjamin Patterson Inn and its establishment as an outstandingly authentic museum. Together the Martins wrote The Lands of the Painted Post, an account of early western New York which was even published in a Japanese-language edition.

Jack Martin was a friendly, intelligent and generous man who presented many talks to historical societies and at the Elderhostel. He contributed to the Crooked Lake Review “Resuscitating a Water-Logged Library in issues 64 and 65; “Racial Aspects of Corning History,” issue 128; and Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-visited a book-length review with 14 chapters all in issue no. 137. Jack and Phyl provided reproductions for issue 115 of pages from “Description of the Genesee Country: Its Rapidly Progressive Population and Improvements” included in John Low’s 1799 publication Universal Geography.

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