Richard Martin
by Jim Hall

Martin School was named to honor Richard Martin, who served as Manchester's Town Manager from 1952 to 1965, and who was a principal framer of the town charter. At the dedication of Martin School, Justice House of the State Supreme Court, described him as "a man of unquestioned integrity and of sound judgement, a hard worker with a rare capacity for getting things done." Like his predecessor George Waddell, he gained the respect and confidence of the townspeople, and his death in 1967 was felt to be a heavy loss to the community.

Richard Martin was born in 1905 in Essex Junction, Vermont and attended the University of Vermont for 2 years. He worked as a newspaperman, public institute researcher, and state and town governmental administrator; and all dovetailed into one another in one consistent instinct toward that public service which became the dominant theme of his life.

Martin first came into contact with Manchester in 1929, as a reporter for The Hartford Courant: On learning that the selectmen were supposed to hold a voter-making session on a particular day he wrote it up. On finding out that there were no such plans, he did a story on their not complying with the charter requirements.

In 1935, when he was working for The Manchester Herald, he began agitating for changes to the town charter. Barred from meetings, he instead got elected to the board of selectmen. He pressed for changes, but it wasn't until 1947 that changes were voted on and implemented; George Waddell was appointed the town's first general manager.

In 1937 Mr. Martin left the Herald and became executive secretary of the Connecticut League of Municipalities. There he studied the financial relationship between the state and its communities, and made many recommendations which were submitted to the State Legislature in 1939 and eventually adopted. He also led the cleanup efforts in the wake of the disastrous Hurricane of 1938; and made recommendations regarding aid to the poor and aged and on aid to families with dependent children.

During his 13 years as Manchester's general manager, he established a personnel program which included methods for working with union employees and personnel rules about working conditions for town employees. He also revised the budget system, implemented a centralized purchasing system, and initiated many programs on water mains, storm drains, school buildings, and sanitrary sewers. Prior to his retirement he appeared before the Board of Directors reviewing his administrative performance, and there made 15 proposals for future consideration, all of which were ultimately adopted.

Following his retirement he was a consultant with the State Water Resources Commission. He is credited with much of the work which went into the preparation the the state's Clean Water Bill, adopted in 1967.

Shortly after his death, there was established a Richard Martin Scholarship for Manchester high school students planning a career in public service. And the naming of the Martin School in his honor was indeed a most fitting tribute to his life of public service.

Note: Martin School was first called the Globe Hollow School, after a nearby area with the small Globe Manufacturing Company, whose mill pond became a town swimming hole.