John C. Courtin, executive director of Darwin Martin House Restoration Corp. - The Buffalo News
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John C. Courtin, executive director of Darwin Martin House Restoration Corp.

Aug. 31, 1948 – June 29, 2014

John Christopher Courtin, a founding member of the Martin House Restoration Corp. and its longtime executive director, died June 29 after a long illness. He was 65.

Mr. Courtin was born in Buffalo and was a graduate of Canisius High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Georgetown University in 1970 and graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1978. While an undergraduate, he was a member of the 1969 Dad Vail championship heavyweight rowing team and later became coach of the lightweight varsity crew.

Georgetown is also where Mr. Courtin met his wife, the former Sharon Federico, whom he married in 1974. He also worked at the university as an admissions officer, adjunct professor in the law school and executive director of the Alumni Association.

The Courtins moved to Buffalo in 1990, and Mr. Courtin began work as an attorney with the Hodgson, Russ law firm.

While practicing law, he also became a founding member of the Martin House Restoration Corp., and in 1998 he left his law practice to become the corporation’s executive director.

The project went on to become one of the most successful Frank Lloyd Wright restorations in the country, and the Darwin D. Martin House complex is now a National Historic Landmark.

Mr. Courtin’s interests in preservation, Wright and rowing found a common outlet when he took part in the successful effort to construct a boathouse designed by Wright in 1905 but never built. He was one of three founding members of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rowing Boathouse Corp., which saw the boathouse completed in 2007. It now stands on the Black Rock Channel next to the West Side Rowing Club, of which Mr. Courtin was a life member.

Mr. Courtin was named a vice president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., in 2007. He stewarded the Kauffman Campuses initiative, promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship on college campuses throughout the country before retiring in 2012.

Mr. Courtin also was an active volunteer with the National Outdoor Leadership School, Canisius High School, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Phillips Exeter Academy’s Annual Fund, Georgetown’s Hoyas Unlimited and the Georgetown Alumni Admissions Program.

Earlier this year, his work was recognized by the Georgetown University Alumni Association when it awarded him its John Carroll Award, the highest honor it can bestow.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Courtin is survived by a son, Christopher; two daughters, Allison and Cathryn; a brother, Damian; and a sister, Catherine Trifon.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Mark Catholic Church, 401 Woodward Ave. at Amherst Street. Donations may be made to the Martin House Restoration Corp., 143 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14214.

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