Ron Martin: “A passion for finding good stories, an award-winning reporter, an outstanding mentor.”

From an obit by Sandy Strickland in the Florida Times-Union headlined “Ronald ‘Ron” Martin, 1931-2020: Fearless journalist know for education, government coverage”:

Ronald “Ron” Martin, an award-winning education reporter and governmental affairs editor for the Jacksonville Journal, has died at age 88. . . .He also was an editor with the Florida Times-Union after the Journal ceased publication.

When the Duval County school system lost its accreditation in 1964 and in the years leading up to desegregation, Mr. Martin wrote a series of hard-hitting stories about poor conditions in schools. Some executives formed a group called WORM (Wipe Out Ron Martin) as a result, said his son, Eric Martin.

He wrote about the schools lacking in credibility, having inadequate financial support, inadequate custodial care, inadequate textbooks and an insufficient number of teachers. . . .

“The work he did led to reforms for the school system,” said Billee Bussard, who worked for both the Journal and Times-Union. “He was one of the top reporters.”

Bussard said he was revered by young reporters and both feared and respected by some governmental leaders. He also was known for a series he did on the environment, she said. . . .

After working for United Press International, he came to the Journal in the early 1960s. When the Journal developed the concept of covering government by areas of interest and named a governmental affairs team to do so, Mr. Martin was put in charge, , said Lloyd Brown, former Journal reporter and Times-Union editorial editor.

“Under his direction, we covered city government like a blanket during the early days of consolidation and provided the readers with detailed information about political activities affecting them that they did not get anywhere else,” Brown said. “He was dedicated to detail and accuracy.”

Mike Clark, editorial page editor for the Times-Union, also was part of that team when he came to the Journal in 1973 to cover JEA, the environment and City Hall.

“Ron was an outstanding mentor for the young reporters working for him.” Clark said. “He had covered the school system after it had been disaccredited, and he still had great contacts in the city. He was a great boss.“

Charlie Patton recalled that he had a passion for finding good stories. When Patton was hired in February 1977, Mr. Martin was assistant city editor of the Journal, later becoming city editor and then managing editor.

“He mentored you,” said Patton, who retired as a features writer for the Times-Union in 2018. “He was a good motivator and somebody, who if I was having an issue with a story. that I could go to and get advice.”

They also shared a love for fantasy baseball. As Patton tells it, a former Times-Union editor organized the First Coast Rotisserie League in 1984. The name had “Rotisserie” in it because the guys who came up with the concept had held their initial meeting in a restaurant bearing that name, Patton said.

In the spring, a player auction was held, and each “owner” had a pool of money with which to buy players whose statistical performances in eight categories determined the standings, Patton said.

Fittingly, Mr. Martin’s team was called the Martinis. In the real world, Mr. Martin was a big fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Vero Beach was their spring training home from 1948 to 2008.

He also was passionate about Gator football and basketball, politics, science fiction and spy novels, gardening and taking long walks.

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