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John Martina, WWII vet, administrative law judge

Sept. 19, 1925 – April 29, 2015

John F. Martina of Williamsville, a retired attorney and administrative law judge who was a decorated World War II Army veteran, died Wednesday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 89.

A lifetime resident of Buffalo’s West Side, Mr. Martina was the son of the late Charles I. Martina, a former assemblyman. He attended Holy Angels Collegiate Institute, graduating as valedictorian in the school’s first class in 1943. He graduated from the University of Buffalo Law School and was admitted to the state bar in 1956.

During World War II, Mr. Martina served as a sergeant of the 86th Infantry Division, known as the Black Hawk Division, and as a communications chief. He saw combat action in Central Europe and served in the Philippines. He liberated prisoners in Poland at the end of the war.

He received several awards including the Bronze Star.

After law school, he began private practice in his father’s law firm in 1957.

In 1968, he began to serve as an administrative law judge for the Department of Motor Vehicles, where he held safety hearings for all of Western New York and frequently at the World Trade Center in New York City. He retired in 1988.

He was a member of the Police and Judges Association and a volunteer for the draft board for 10 years, where he held hearings during the contentious times of the Vietnam War era.

An avid piano player, Mr. Martina often would fill in for musicians when they took a break during sets at restaurants and events. He played at the Broderick Park Inn on Friday nights for a couple of years in the early 1980s. During his time as a resident at Brompton Heights, he entertained residents daily.

He also was a skilled woodcarver. Other interests included photography.

He was a longtime member of the Holy Name Society of Holy Angels Catholic Church and also served as a lector.

He and his wife, the former Emily B. Runfola, traveled throughout Europe and wintered in Vero Beach and Fort Myers, Fla. She died in 2010 after 62 years of marriage.

Survivors include two daughters, Emily Kogler and Elizabeth Martina; two sons, Jon and Mark; two sisters, Louise Cavalier and Kathleen Damiano; 14 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in Holy Angels Church, 348 Porter Ave.

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