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History buff made mark as photographer, athlete

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Friday, July 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

An avid photographer, writer, history buff and athlete, Charles Martin never failed to make an impression.

“He was just a true gentleman,” according to David Thompson Sr., president of the General Arthur St. Clair chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, which Martin had served as president. “He was one of those people you're glad you knew.”

Charles R. Martin of Jones Mills died Monday, July 8, 2013, in his home. He was 86.

Born in Beaver Falls, he became fascinated with photography at a young age. After serving in World War II aboard the destroyer USS Lyman K. Swenson in the Pacific fleet, Mr. Martin studied art and zoology in Dartmouth College.

He returned to Beaver Falls after graduation and met his wife of 62 years, Sara “Sally” Mitchell. They married in 1950 and had three children.

In a segment on WQED last year, Mr. Martin said his goal as a photographer was always to capture “the decisive moment,” a phrase coined by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

“When there's any group of people, two people or more, interacting, there's one split-second that sums up exactly what happened at that time, at that place, better than any other split-second,” Mr. Martin said. “And that's what you look for.”

A decisive moment in his career was the 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Mourning march in Pittsburgh. Images Mr. Martin captured that day are archived in the University of Pittsburgh History ULS Archives Service Center. The photos were exhibited in April in Hillman Library.

“Glad I Was Here,” a retrospective book of Mr. Martin's photographs, is scheduled to be out this month.

A keen interest in history and his ancestry led Mr. Martin to join the Sons of the American Revolution and the Ligonier Civil War Roundtable. Mr. Martin and his wife co-authored “Warpath: A Saga of the Frontier Family of John Martin,” a novel published in 2008 about his ancestors' adventures during the French and Indian War.

Mr. Martin regularly competed in bicycling and cross-country skiing competitions. In February, he and his wife earned silver medals during the Masters World Cup in Asiago, Italy, for their age group in the 5-kilometer freestyle. Mr. Martin took gold in the 10K freestyle.

“He just was a very active man,” said friend Rosalind Ashmun. “I just lost my husband (Richard) on the 10th of June. The fact that ... Sally and I lost both of them within a month of one another is significant. I think they've probably started their S.A.R. chapter up in heaven.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Catherine Martin Mitchell, of Ocracoke, N.C.; two sons, William McQuaid Martin, of Gaithersburg, Md., and Thomas Alan Martin, of Julian in Centre County; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held July 20 in Middle Presbyterian Church near Mt. Pleasant.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com

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