Joseph C. Martin

Published 8:18 am Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Joseph C. Martin


Joseph C. Martin, 91, passed away peacefully, Friday, October 13, 2017 with his family at his side. Joe was born in Dawson Springs, KY in 1926. The only son of Joseph and Claudia Wright Martin. He graduated from Centre College where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and was editor of the Centre College Cento and was captain of the varsity tennis team for four years. 

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In the United States Navy he was a special ops Frogman which was the predecessor to the Navy Seals. He was named the “Outstanding Man of His Naval Unit” and he went on to become one of the youngest to command a World War II group in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Joe was the recipient of the Victory Medal, American Theatre Medal, Asiatic-Pacific (Bronze Star) Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Medal. 

His first job after college was Editor of the Delray Beach News in Florida and his newspaper won first place in design at the Florida Press Association Convention in 1950, he was also the youngest editor in the state of Florida at the time. 

Upon returning to Kentucky he became president of Martin-Durr-Caldwell Interior Designers, a spot he held for 45 years. He was CEO of Toliver PTA, Danville High PTA, The Centre Alumni Association, the Beta Alumni Association of Centre, and the KSD Museum Committee. He also served as President of the Kentucky chapter of the National Society of Interior Designers, later, The American Society of Interior Designers. He was an Interior Design graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Through the course of his career, he designed many notable locations such as the Brown Hotel in Louisville, the Kentucky room for the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C., and was an advisor to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and the Natchez Trace pilgrimage, selecting which houses would be involved. He worked both publicly and privately for several Kentucky governors, including Martha Layne Collins and Louie B. Nunn. He was a Designer Emeritus with the American Society of Interior Designers. He was also the leading church designer in Kentucky, having designed over 140 churches. 

Just lately he discovered that he was the oldest practicing designer in Kentucky, and he was delighted with that label. Locally he was past President of the Retail Merchants Association, the Architectural Review Board, and Chairman of the Board of The First Christian Church, Board of Elders and a Sunday School Teacher for 35 years. He was Past President and Paul Harris Fellow of the Danville Rotary Club, and a Kentucky Colonel. Besides being chairman of the Greenleaf Association he was Survey Chairman for Ephraim McDowell Hospital and a board member of the Pioneer Playhouse. He was a member of the Danville Country Club Tennis Team and was a member of the “Dew Patrol Golf Team.” An avid golfer, tennis player, swimmer and cliff diver. He was well known at the McDowell Wellness Center where he swam just about every morning. In 2013 he was inducted into Centre’s Athletic Hall of Fame. 

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Frances Caldwell Martin; and a daughter, Mary Cynthia Martin (John) Feldman. He was predeceased by four sisters, Cynthia, Mary Jane, and Christine, and Pat; and a son, Gentry Wright Martin. The funeral service will be held at 1:30 pm, Friday, October 20, 2017, First Christian Church, Danville, KY. Rev. Joey Positilo will officiate. Interment will be at Bellevue Cemetery. 

Pallbearers will be Alex McCrosky, Robert Hamlin, Jon Kuchenbrod, John Feldman, John O’Meara and Mackie Beto. Honorary pallbearers will be Leeanna Randolph, Carolyn Cole, Sid Wold, Ed Rall, John Baird, John Roberts, Irving Fox, Buddy Harmon, Gene Worthington, Bill Owens, David Overstreet, Tom Cummings, Bill Galbreath, Cliff Taylor, Joe Perry, Rob Hundley, Brad Twilley, Tom Tye, Mike Perros, and Floyd Lyons. 

Visitation will be 4 to 8 pm, Thursday, October 19, 2017, at the First Christian Church. The online guestbook is available at