Copyright 1990-present Joe O'Shea, Jr.
Martin looks forward to life after
By Joe O'Shea
Although Jack Martin's Vietnam experience lasted only 12 months, it drastically altered the next 35 years of his life.
Martin was not only schooled in the fine arts of time management, preparedness, responsibility, self-confidence and leadership, he also developed a lasting sense of place. As a signal battalion officer, Martin was attached to the elite 173rd Airborne Brigade, which he helped move 10 times in six months.
"That caused me not to want to move again," says Martin, who will step down as vice president of business this month. "When I got home [from Vietnam], I thought about what doesn't move, and I decided to work at a university."
Most importantly, Martin discovered the precious, yet tenuous, nature of life, which may explain why he's squeezed every possible drop out of his past three-plus decades. "The whole 35 years since I got out of the army have been very, very hectic," says Martin, who earned a bronze star in Vietnam. "I've been driven to be an accomplisher."
Now, at age 60, his drive hasn't lessened, but his motives have changed. After battling cancer, dealing with heart trouble, and comforting his mother in the months leading up to her death in February, Martin's sense of mortality has forced him to reassess his priorities.
On a trip home this spring, Martin stopped in a marshy area to listen to symphonic spring peepers, tiny frogs that live up to their name. "It's a beautiful sound," he says. "I must have listened to them for a half hour."
In short, it's time for Martin to stop and appreciate all he's hurried by for the past 35 years. Instead of pleasing others, he'll now work to enjoy himself.
"How many people do you know who are 80 years old?" he asks. "I did the math, and at age 60, there are still a lot of things that I want to do. I'll still have a hectic lifestyle, but I'll be accomplishing different things."
Martin quickly rattled off his passions: Boating, literature, mechanics, completing his autobiography, art, genealogy, travel, nature, music and films. In addition to spending more time with his wife, Dee, and daughters, Tina and Tara, Martin plans to budget time to pursue all these loves.
But to pursue his other loves, Martin will have to give up an old flame in Northeastern, where he thrived as a student, administrator and part-time accounting instructor. "I've spent my whole career in higher ed," says Larry Mucciolo, senior vice president for administration and finance, "and I've never worked with a physical plant manager with a greater commitment to an institution."
Martin admittedly got off to a slow start as a Northeastern student, but once he "got it," he became a regular on the honor roll before graduating in 1965. Since the military draft was a reality in the mid-1960s, Martin knew he'd have to serve his country. So he joined Northeastern's ROTC, became a distinguished military graduate and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer.
Upon completion of his two-year hitch, Martin returned home and began his long and fruitful relationship with Northeastern. He first signed on as assistant bookstore manager in 1967, and, 13 years later, had advanced to his current position overseeing Northeastern's physical plant.
To list just a few of his accomplishments during the past 22 years, Martin is responsible for the construction of the Egan Research Center, the Marino Recreation Center, the West Village residence halls and Shillman Hall; the renovation of Matthews Arena, Columbus Place and the Curry Student Center; writing and rewriting the university's master plan; driving the effort to landscape and revitalize a lengthy strip of Huntington Avenue; and chairing an arts committee charged with beautifying the university's once-barren campus.
Of his many accomplishments, both at Northeastern and with many community organizations, Martin is most proud of two things: His campus landscaping efforts, which earned Northeastern national recognition, and his ability to build consensus between disparate groups.
"I give Jack Martin great credit for the physical transformation of the Boston campus," says president emeritus Jack Curry. "Jack not only had a creative vision, but he had a great ability to implement that vision. If someone asks me who my most dependable vice president was, I always say it was Jack Martin."