Jan Plumadore of Saranac Lake is a retired state Supreme Court justice. Martin was still in high school in Canton when Plumadore, who went to St. Lawrence University, was introduced to his family.
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"David was a guy who always wanted to do something significant, he wanted to make a mark. He was always willing to volunteer. He was a marine. He was a marine corps pilot. That's more than the average citizen was willing to commit to in the 1960s."
Martin served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970, and a member of the State Assembly from 1977 to 1980.
Tupper Lake resident Jim Ellis is former chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee. He says it was clear early on that Martin was destined for a career in politics.
"I zeroed in on him when he was a lawyer before he ran for the assembly. Jan Plumadore and I both had an inkling he was made a pretty stern stuff. I really don't know how to explain it. He was a great guy."
Martin was elected to Congress in 1980 and served until 1993, when he declined to run again.
He is credited with helping persuade the U.S. Army to station the reactivated 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum near Watertown.
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau is the former mayor of Plattsburgh. He worked with Martin when the Plattsburgh Air Force Base was first threatened with closure.
"He was always an honorable gentleman, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody. He worked extremely hard. And he kept that marine corps bearing. He was a marine. He was just an upright guy, very patriotic."
Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh says the North Country has lost a friend with the passing of David O'Brien Martin. He says Martin served his country and his community with honor and distinction. He will be missed.
Funeral services are still pending, and will likely be held in west Virginia and St. Lawrence County.
Chris Morris contributed reporting to this story.