“As a full-time student with a full-time job at The Denver Post, I turned to Dr. Breck as my advisor. He enhanced my lifelong passion for history; he showed me that to dig deeply into the past gave new emphasis to the present," said Martin.
Fred J. Martin ’54
Fred J. Martin (BA, history, '54) returns to campus this May to dedicate a classroom in honor of his favorite DU professor, the late Allen D. Breck, professor of History.
A third generation Montanan, Martin was fresh out of high school when he came to Denver in 1950 to work as a copy person at The Denver Post; that fall he enrolled in the DU journalism program, too. In 1951 Martin was promoted to reporter and switched his major at DU to history to diversify his educational and professional experiences. In the department of history, Martin was inspired by Professor Breck. "As a full-time student with a full-time job at The Denver Post, I turned to Dr. Breck as my advisor. Along with my regular class work, Dr. Breck would assign me independent study papers to overcome my scheduling difficulties. He enhanced my lifelong passion for history; he showed me that to dig deeply into the past gave new emphasis to the present," said Martin.
While a student at DU, Martin was taken aback while covering the late Senator Estes Kefauver in his 1952 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. At a Denver news conference, Kefauver asked Martin, "Which high school paper do you represent, son?" Martin replied, "The Denver Post." Kefauver, seeking to make amends, devoted the remainder of the news conference to Martin's questions.
The next year Martin met at DU and married his wife of 58 years, Shirlee Shields (BA, liberal arts, '54). A member of ROTC while at DU, Martin received a full post-graduate fellowship of Basic Infantry Officers Corp training for six months at Ft. Benning, GA, when he graduated from DU. At the end of the fellowship he was dispatched to Korea for two years.
Martin joined the Associated Press upon his return from Korea and worked in California and Oregon. The Martins returned to San Francisco in 1962 when he became the Urban Affairs Writer for the San Francisco Examiner. Recruited in 1964 by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Martin was vice president, assistant general manager and editor of the monthly San Francisco Business Magazine. In 1971 Martin joined Bank of America to organize its Public Affairs program. He worked for the bank for more than 22 years, the last seven as senior vice president & director of governmental relations.
A highlight of Martin's governmental relations career was his involvement in crafting a workable Electronic Funds Act, signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. Representing Bank of America, Martin had to overcome significant opposition from the American Bankers Association and from professional consumers. "Key House and Senate banking committee members, both Democrats and Republicans, joined forces to pass a balanced measure that protected consumers yet held the line against potential fraudulent use of ATM cards," said Martin.
When he took early retirement in 1993, Martin served for a year as a consultant to the bank. He also consulted widely for firms in health care, technology, engineering, educational lending and banking. Martin was also invited to become a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies. There he initiated and directed two major UC events on mental health and public policy.
During his retirement Martin has devoted time to researching and writing a book on the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln. "I view it as the most crucial election in the history of our nation, and, perhaps, the world. As Professor Breck would have known, and as I have found to be true, one first learns how little one actually knows, how much of what one knows is inaccurate and how much one has to learn when working on a project of this magnitude," said Martin. He has done extensive research in state libraries, the Library of Congress, university libraries and a host of other resources. The book is nearing completion, and Martin credits Breck with inspiring him to tackle the work.
Martin has made a gift to DU to name a classroom in honor of Professor Breck. The Allen D. Breck Memorial Lecture Hall is located in Sturm Hall on the DU campus. It is being dedicated on May 16, 2011, at 5:15 p.m. The dedication precedes the free AHSS Alumni Reception and Livingston Lecture. For more information and to register for these events, click here.