(Updated 5/26/2014) S. Lee Martin, a former Morgan State track star and well known member of the Baltimore business and service community, died at the age of 76 on May 17.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Martin was captain of the legendary Morgan State track team of the early 1960’s; during which time, he was rated as one of the top half-milers on the East Coast. He also ran the anchor leg on Morgan State’s championship one-mile and sprint medley relay teams.
Former AFRO sports editor, the late Sam Lacy, referred to Martin as “the ace half-miler,” and wrote that “Lee ranks with the best collegians in the country. His 1:53.1 clocking is more than five seconds faster than Bob Ridley, his nearest rival in the CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association).”
Martin and the other members of the Morgan State’s track team were local celebrities in Baltimore. Even their opponents knew what time it was when the Morgan State Bears were in town.
“When you knew you were going up against Morgan State, it was intimidating,” said Dr. Harold T. Amaker, who competed against Morgan State in the late 1950s as a member of the Virginia State College track team. “Lee Martin, Paul Winder, those guys were known as the best.”
Martin was active in student affairs at Morgan, where he served as polemarch (president equivalent) of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and business-advertising manager of the college newspaper, The Spokesman. He was later inducted into the Morgan State Athletic Hall of Fame.
After earning his B.A. in political science in 1962, Martin entered the U.S. Army. As a member of the Armed Forces Track Team, he competed in the Military Olympics in Brussels, Belgium, and received special recognition for ability and sportsmanship. He toured the Middle East as a Goodwill Ambassador before being honorably discharged with the rank of first lieutenant in 1964.
After returning to civilian life, Martin was known around Baltimore as a leading real estate broker. His involvement in the Baltimore community included serving on the boards of directors of the Morgan State University Foundation, the Lafayette Square Community Center and the YMCA for the Greater Baltimore Area.
“I learned a lot from Lee in the field of business and community relations. A lot of the ballplayers…, Lee helped them get their real estate license,” said longtime friend Valerie Fraling. “There was nothing you could ask of him that he wouldn’t do.”
Services for Martin will be held on May 29 at Saint James Episcopal Church, 1020 W Lafayette Ave, Baltimore, MD 21217 at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Morgan State University Foundation. Please include “S. Lee Martin-Track & Field” in the memo line.