David O’B. Martin, former U.S. House member from New York, dies at 68


David O’B. Martin, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, was also a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War dies at 68. (David O'B. Martin Office)
November 21, 2012

David O’B. Martin, who served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a force in persuading the Army to enlarge Fort Drum in his economically distressed northern New York district, died of cancer Nov. 20 at his home in Hedgesville, W.Va. He was 68.

A son-in-law, Bill Duskas, confirmed the death.

Mr. Martin, a Republican, was a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War and served in the New York state assembly before winning election to the U.S. House in 1980. On Capitol Hill, he served on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and became a leading advocate of military spending.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Martin was credited for helping persuade the Army to station the reactivated 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum near Watertown, N.Y. This brought tens of thousands of servicemen and their families to the region and launched a $1.3 billion construction project at the base.

Mr. Martin was a key player in the successful effort to save the Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the Navy’s F-14 fighter from the budget ax of then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney.

Mr. Martin had strong constituent support in a solidly Republican district but did not run for reelection in 1992.

“Living a couple of hundred days a year out of a suitcase is not something you want to do,” Mr. Martin told the New York Times. “You have to work with the zeal of a crusader, which I think I’ve done. The only promise I made my constituents is to work 60 seconds every minute, which I think I’ve done.”

After a year teaching at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., Mr. Martin became vice president for state and local affairs for the National Soft Drink Association and was president of the trade group’s subsidiary InterBev Ltd.

In 2000, he started a
Washington-based lobbying shop now called Martin, Fisher, Thompson and Associates. He was president at the time of his death.

David O’Brien Martin was born in St. Lawrence County, N.Y., on April 26, 1944. His father was a county sheriff.

Martin was a 1966 graduate of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and received a law degree in 1973 from Albany Law School in New York. He served in the Marine Corps as a flight officer from 1966 to 1970.

His first marriage, to DeeAnn Hedlund, ended in divorce. In 1993, he married Dana McGee.

Besides his wife, of Hedgesville, survivors include three daughters from his first marriage, Victoria Duskas of Morristown, N.Y., Kelly Bridges of Chadds Ford, Pa., and Julia Bassett of Easton, Conn.; and two grandchildren.

— From staff and wire reports

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