Saturday, July 13, 2024

Journalist Edward Martin, 80, dies after distinguished career

Journalist Edward Martin died May 29 after more than five decades of writing award-winning stories that explored the work and lives of North Carolinians in vivid detail. He was 80.

Martin grew up on a tobacco farm near Bedford, Virginia, a town of 3,200 famous for losing 19 soldiers in the Normandy landing in 1944 during World War II. He served in the U.S. Army for three years, receiving military-sponsored journalism training at Columbia University in New York.

While Martin was serving at Fort Liberty near Fayetteville, Durham Herald reporter Chuck Barber met him while working on a story on military wives. That connection led to a job at the Durham newspaper, where Martin became city editor. He joined the Charlotte News in 1977, later moving to the Charlotte Observer.

After a stint as a freelance writer for national healthcare publications, he joined Business North Carolina magazine in 2001. He was the monthly publication’s most prolific writer, including a story that will be published in a future edition.

Martin’s stories won more than 30 prizes from the Alliance of Area Business Publications, earning him recognition as one of the best journalists of his generation. He received top honors in the group’s annual “Best Body of Work” category more than a dozen times, a record that contest judges from the University of Missouri School of Journalism said would likely never be surpassed.

In a 2014 column, former Business North Carolina Editor and Publisher David Kinney noted the Missouri judges’ comment on Martin’s gift “for infusing flesh, blood and emotions into work that, in the hands of one less talented, would be as soulless as ciphers on musty ledger pages. Martin’s stories are fine examples of how to humanize business stories without losing sight of the numbers. The writing has many lively turns of phrase that keep the reader engaged to the very end.”

In 2010, an AABP contest judge noted that, “Great detail gives wings to great writing. You can almost hear the stillness when Martin poses tough questions to race team owner Rick Hendrick [March 2009], or hear the hope and hopelessness of Hispanic workers [May 2009]; he even makes you feel the emptiness of a has-been shopping mall [October 2009]. Martin clearly elevates every story he touches, regardless of subject, and is one of the few writers who uses dialogue well.”

One of Martin’s most memorable stories was his 2008 profile of East Carolina University’s medical complex and Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., who was among the world’s most famous cardio thoracic surgeons. Martin fused his own experience of undergoing heart-bypass surgery directed by Chitwood into this award-winning story.

In 2016, Martin was honored as the most outstanding journalist in the Charlotte area by the Society of Professional Journalists’ local chapter.

Martin lived in Bedford in recent years. He is survived by his wife, Natalie, a niece and several cousins. A service scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday June 1 at Mentow Baptist Church in Huddleston, Virginia.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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