March 23, 1949 – May 12, 2019
Patrick E. Martin, the attorney who put together the complex arrangement that brought a lost Mark Twain manuscript back to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, died May 12 in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga, after a brief illness. He was 70.
As general counsel for the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, he obtained a State Supreme Court ruling that changed the laws governing libraries across the state, taking the power over library budgets away from municipalities and giving it to library trustees.
For the Library Foundation, he also negotiated the return of the handwritten first half of the manuscript of Twain’s novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which had been missing for more than a century.
Twain donated the 605-page manuscript to the library in 1885. The library trustee who received it from Twain died before he could have it bound and it was discovered by the trustee’s granddaughters in a steamer trunk in an attic in Los Angeles in 1991.
Mr. Martin also negotiated the sale of publishing rights to Random House.
He also oversaw arrangements for digital versions of the Twain manuscript and for the publication of another long-lost Twain story, “A Murder, a Mystery and a Marriage.”
“That was his dream,” his daughter, Caitlin Martin, said. “Combining his law career with his love of English literature.”
Mr. Martin helped organize a Mark Twain Writing Competition and arranged for judging by authors such as area natives Joyce Carol Oates, Lauren Belfer and Connie Porter, along with humorists Roy Blount Jr. and Garrison Keillor.
“Pat Martin’s passion for literature is putting Buffalo on the map of places Twain enthusiasts and scholars will recognize and access as a reference,” Kathleen Rooney, who publicized the writing contest, told Buffalo News reporter Louise Continelli in 2001. “He’s a lawyer more interested in a book than a buck and a great example of how following your dreams can lead to success.”
In 2010, he co-edited “Mark Twain in Buffalo” with Robert H. Hirst, director of the Mark Twain Project at University of California Berkeley, a collection of letters Twain wrote while he lived and worked here from 1869 to 1871. Proceeds benefited the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
Mr. Martin also strengthened Buffalo’s connection to Irish author James Joyce, whose archive and personal effects are housed in the Poetry Collection at UB.
He initiated the production of a documentary, “James Joyce ... Dublin to Buffalo,” for the National Library of Ireland in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of June 16, 1904, the date on which Joyce’s novel, “Ulysses,” takes place. He served as co-writer and co-director.
At the same time, he founded the riverrun organization – “riverrun” being the first and last words in Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake – which supports cultural programs and provides fellowships to graduate students in UB’s English Department.
The showing of the documentary here in 2004 prompted riverrun to establish Cinegael Buffalo, a festival of Irish film, which has evolved into an annual Global Film Series.
Born in Spartanburg, S.C., he was a left-handed pitcher drafted by the Cincinnati Reds while he was attending Palmetto High School in Miami, Fla., where he was a member of the National Honor Society. Instead, having played tight end on the football team, which was ranked fifth in the state, he accepted a football scholarship and went to Duke University.
After a shoulder injury put an end to his sports career, he completed a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature at Duke and took a job with a public television station in Hartford, Conn.
He came to the University at Buffalo for graduate studies and, while concentrating on Herman Melville, he also studied under two nationally-known Twain scholars, Victor Doyno and Leslie Fiedler.
“I remember discussing Twain with Leslie Fiedler and Vic Doyno, never having any idea I’d have this involvement,” Mr. Martin said in a television documentary about the library's Twain manuscript.
It was at a dinner with other UB English Department grad students that he met Mary Kennedy, the daughter of Buffalo attorney Kevin Kennedy. They were married in 1976 and he decided to take up a legal career. After he earned a master’s degree in English, he enrolled in UB’s joint PhD/JD program, receiving his juris doctor degree in 1985.
After completing law school, he served as confidential clerk to U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin and worked on the Love Canal and Buffalo school desegregation cases.
Mr. Martin went on to be a partner in his father-in-law’s firm, which became Kennedy, Stoeckl and Martin. In recent years, he was of counsel at the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King.
He also was president of the Julian R. and Varue W. Oishei Foundation, the Whitten Arts Foundation and the Donald H. Cloudsley Foundation. He served on the board of directors of UB’s Humanities Institute in its early years and, through the institute, helped create the Scholars @ Muse series at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
A longtime resident of the Elmwood Village and a regular at the gym in the Jewish Community Center, he traveled extensively with his wife. In the past few years, they hiked Ireland, the Amalfi Coast, Costa Rican rainforests and the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, and biked across the Bordeaux region in France.
Survivors also include two other daughters, Heidi and Greer; a sister, Judy Tiller; a brother, Steven J.; and four grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered May 17 in St. Joseph University Catholic Church, 3269 Main St