I have ordered the college flags to be flown at half mast to mark the passing of George M. Martin ’42, HON ’88, who served for 21 years as executive vice president for administrative affairs at Canisius and later as special counsel to the president. He died Saturday morning at the age of 92.
After graduating from Canisius College, George served three years in the military during World War II. For his service, the U.S. Armed Forces presented him with the Bronze Star, which is awarded for bravery or acts of merit. Following the war, George went on to earn his juris doctor degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law. He then returned to Canisius in 1949 to work part-time as the college’s alumni director. In this role, George organized the Office of Alumni Relations; established and directed the Alumni Loyalty Fund, a precursor to today’s Canisius Fund; and began publishing the Canisius College Alumni News.
George left Canisius to practice law in 1958. He also served as commissioner of parks under Buffalo Mayor Frank A. Sedita, and Erie County public administrator. When Rev. James M. Demske ’47, S.J., became president of Canisius College in 1966, George returned to alma mater to become executive vice president for administrative affairs. During his tenure, George was the chief architect of the Canisius Centennial Campaign and the Campaign for the Eighties, both of which positioned Canisius to take its place among the top ranks of regional colleges in the Northeast. After 21 years in the position, George retired to the less active role of special counsel to the Canisius College president.
For his long and distinguished career and service to Canisius, the college conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters degree upon George in 1988. He is also the recipient of the LaSalle Medal, the highest honor conferred by the Canisius College Alumni Association for service to alma mater; the Distinguished Alumnus Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of alumni who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers; and is an inductee of the college’s DiGamma Honor Society, a prestigious society composed of men and women who distinguish themselves by working for the advancement of the college and providing exemplary service on behalf of students and alumni.
In 2011, I had the honor of conferring upon George the President’s Medal, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. At that time, I cited him as an outstanding exemplar of service to God and community.
George’s life was devoted to service. He had an amazingly fertile mind and an extraordinary ability to put ideas into action. And he had that uncanny knack of always being in the right place at the right time. All of this redounded to the benefit of Canisius College over the past six decades. Rev. Edward F. Maloney, S.J., the college’s former executive vice president for academic affairs and a great sportsman, is reported to have said, “When the history of Canisius College is written, George Martin will be regarded as one of the real long-ball hitters.”
I enjoyed a friendship of more than 40 years with George. I worked for him while I was a student at Canisius and during law school. Many years later, in 1997, I ultimately assumed the job he had held when I became vice president for college relations at Canisius. Through the years, George was mentor extraordinaire, friend and counsel. Stated simply, he was a Canisian for the ages and I know I speak on behalf of so many in saying that we will miss him greatly.
Final arrangements are still being completed. We expect that they will include a memorial Mass here on the Canisius College campus.
Requiescat in Pace.
Submitted by: President John J. Hurley