By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, former U.S. Rep. James Douglas “Jim” Martin has died.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said in a statement, “Congressman Jim Martin was a great asset to our state. He lived a long life dedicated to serving Alabama in various roles. He was elected to Congress as a Republican in 1965 for one term until 1967. At the time, he was the first Republican elected to that role in over 70 years. Prior to his time in Washington, Congressman Martin was an Army veteran and served under General Patton in World War II.”
“As Commissioner of Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Mr. Martin created the Forever Wild program in 1992,” Lathan said. “Alabamians today, as well as our future generations, can thank Congressman Martin for many of Alabama’s beautiful parks and natural resources that we all enjoy. This program has preserved thousands of acres of land in our state truly reinforcing our home as ‘Alabama the Beautiful’.”
“Congressman Martin was a true patriarch of the Alabama Republican Party. He helped build our party’s foundation that we benefit from today. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Martin’s loved ones, especially his beloved wife, Pat. His legacy will be positively remembered in Alabama for years to come. He is a great example of how one person truly can make a difference for others,” Lathan said.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said, “I was very sad to learn of the passing of my friend and predecessor, former Alabama Congressman Jim Martin. Voters elected Martin in 1964 as the first Republican to represent the district since the 19th Century. The district at the time was labeled as the 7th District, but has since been split into the 4th and 5th districts. Besides being a trailblazer in Alabama politics, Martin also started the Forever Wild program in the state, which has secured more than 22,000 acres of land for public use. Martin was also a veteran of World War 2. He was 99.”
U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, R-Rainbow City, said, “Kayla and I were saddened to hear this morning of Congressman Jim Martin’s passing. Jim was a close family friend, a patriot, and a larger-than-life figure. Jim served with honor in World War II in the European theater, under the command General George S. Patton….and he later had a distinguished career in business and government that included a term in Congress and a stint as the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation.”
“As a Congressman, Jim Martin in 1965 helped secure my appointment to the U.S Military Academy at West Point – and his generosity changed the course of my life forever,” Judge Moore said. “And just three years ago at the age of ninety-six, Jim took time to write letters of support on behalf of my son Micah, who is a now a second-year cadet at West Point. I salute the memory of Jim Martin, and Kayla and I pray that God will be with his family during their time of mourning.”
“Jim Martin was a dear friend, and a living legend who paved the way for so many Alabama Republicans like me. My deepest sympathies and prayers are with Jim’s wife, Pat, and his entire family,” said U.S. Sen. Luther Strange.
Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said, “Saddened to hear of former Rep. Jim Martin’s passing. He was a Republican before there were any Republicans in Alabama, serving in Congress from 1965-1967. Jim was the oldest living former member of Congress, having just turned 99 in September. But more importantly, he was my friend.”
“Heaven gained a truly great man today. Alabama is so blessed to have known Jim Martin and he was such a blessing to me personally. He is responsible for today’s Republican Party in Alabama. He served as our US Congressman and Commissioner of Conservation and he established our Forever Wild program. He served in WW II and was a true hero in so many ways. When I first ran for office he was one of the first I sought advice from and he always made time for anyone seeking his advice. We will miss him greatly and are praying for his precious family. Rest is peace Congressman Martin,” State Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, said.
Martin ran unsuccessfully for governor against Lurleen Wallace in 1966. He also ran for U.S. Senate twice unsuccessfully during the 1970s.
The Alabama Political Reporter saw Martin at an Etowah County Republican Party breakfast event in September.