Robert Martin, a lawyer specializing in defense industry matters who was an adviser to Democratic presidential campaigns and a founder of Charlie’s Georgetown, a Washington jazz club, died June 23 at his home in Orlando. He was 88.
The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said a son, Michael Martin.
After serving as an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, Mr. Martin moved to Washington in 1953 and entered private practice with the firm of Fowler, Leva, Hawes & Symington, where he became a partner. In the 1980s, Mr. Martin became a principal at Simon, Turnbull & Martin.
As a specialist in defense contracting, he had a number of high-profile corporate clients, including H. Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems and the industrial and pharmaceutical conglomerate FMC. He also represented the defense interests of the British Embassy in Washington.
Mr. Martin was active in Democratic politics for many years and served as a strategist and as an advance worker organizing rallies in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 presidential campaigns.
In 1980, Mr. Martin became a founder and managing partner of Charlie’s Georgetown, a jazz club along the Georgetown riverfront. A lifelong jazz fan, Mr. Martin said he wanted to re-create the atmosphere of the Cafe Carlyle and other posh clubs in New York.
The club was named for its musical host and frequent featured performer, guitarist Charlie Byrd, who was from Chuckatuck, Va., the home town of Mr. Martin’s wife. Charlie’s featured top jazz artists and singers, including Shirley Horn, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Short, Oscar Peterson and Mel Tormé.
The club was also a notable gathering spot for Washington’s elite, such as former House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill (D-Mass.), Joseph Hirshhorn, the benefactor of the modern-art museum on the Mall, and leading figures in the media. Charlie’s closed in 1985.
Martin Emanuel Weinberg was born March 24, 1927, in New York City. His parents were divorced when he was young, and he grew up with his mother, who was a clothing designer.
Mr. Martin, who changed his name before beginning his professional career, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1946 and from Columbia University’s law school in 1949.
From 1951 to 1953, as an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, Mr. Martin helped in the successful prosecutions of espionage figures Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, as well as organized-crime leaders Frank Costello and Joe Adonis.
In 1987, Mr. Martin was a co-founder of an international forum of defense industry contractors and other specialists in the field. The annual conference is now generally known as ComDef.
For many years, Mr. Martin lived in Bethesda, Md., where he and his wife were known for entertaining leading figures in politics, sports and entertainment, including Duke Ellington and Muhammad Ali, acquaintances said.
Mr. Martin retired from his law firm in 1997 and moved to Florida.
His wife of 60 years, the former Betty Rippey, died in 2013. Survivors include three children, James Martin of North Haven, Conn., and Diane Court and Michael Martin, both of Orlando; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.