W. Paul Martin, 85, who served four terms as mayor of Salisbury, Md., and helped usher in the city's rapid commercial and residential growth, died Oct. 1 at Coastal Hospice in Salisbury. No cause of death was reported.

Mr. Martin was elected to his first term as mayor in 1982 and served for 16 years -- the longest tenure in the city's history -- before retiring in 1998.

His service to Salisbury began in 1958, when he was tapped to fill a vacant City Council seat. He was elected to the council a short time later, and he served continuously until he was elected mayor. He never lost an election.

As mayor, he spearheaded a development boom. "I just believe the city has two choices -- it either grows or dies," he once said.

He prepared the city for growth by doubling the capacity of its water and sewage treatment plants. He was instrumental in the creation of the Centre at Salisbury shopping mall, igniting a commercial expansion in the northern part of the city that continued after he left office.

He also created the Port of Salisbury Marina and was involved in the planning and construction of a police headquarters and a state government multipurpose building.

Mr. Martin was an active volunteer firefighter for 20 years. As mayor, he worked to get the Fire Department's 911 emergency system installed and oversaw construction of a new fire station.

Born in Princess Anne, Md., Mr. Martin moved to Salisbury with his family in 1937. He worked at American Stores as a clerk and delivery boy, carrying groceries on his bicycle for $2 a week.

He continued working at the grocery chain, later renamed Acme, during his time in public office, retiring as associate manager of the Mount Hermon Road store.

His wife, Geraldine, died in 2002.

Survivors include three children.