About Felix E. Martin Jr.



Felix Eaves Martin Junior (1927-2007)—a veteran of two wars, a plant engineer, an investor and now a philanthropist—was born on March 17, 1927, in Greenville, Kentucky, the county seat of Muhlenberg County.  He was the only child of Felix Eaves Martin Senior (1891-1960) and Ima Jean Sisk Martin (1903-2001). 

The Martin family has been a part of Muhlenberg County for over two hundred years.  In 1805, Felix’s great-great-great-grandmother, Susannah Walker Martin, settled in Muhlenberg County from Goochland County, Virginia after the death of her husband, who had fought in the Revolutionary War. 

Felix’s grandfather, Rufus Martin (1857-1902), started and managed several successful businesses in Greenville, including a tobacco export business and the R. Martin Dry Goods Company. 

Rufus Martin’s eldest son was Felix’s father, Felix Eaves Martin Senior, (1891-1960).  During the First World War, he served as a pilot in the U.S. Army aviation service, flying on a regular basis near the front.  After the war, he returned to Greenville, joined the family in business at the R. Martin Dry Goods Company and married schoolteacher Ima Jean Sisk on March 10, 1926. 

Felix was born the following year and was their only child.  Felix Junior attended school in Greenville through the eleventh grade and completed his secondary education at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1945.  Upon his graduation, he joined the U.S Maritime Service and served on the S.S. Thomas Say in the Mediterranean Sea during the final months of World War II. 

Following his honorable discharge in 1946, Felix enrolled at Western Kentucky University.  After his freshman year, he transferred to the University of Kentucky, where he joined Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.  His education was interrupted in 1950 when he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Korean War.  He was trained by the Central Intelligence Corps as a pathfinder for the Eighth Army, interpreting aerial photos for use by troops in battle.  Felix earned two bronze Stars, a United Nations Service Medal and a unit commendation for his service. 

After his honorable discharge in 1952, Felix returned to the University of Kentucky on the G.I. Bill.  He was elected president of his fraternity and graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce.  After graduation, Felix, worked as an outside plant engineer, and then as a public relations supervisor for Southern Bell Telephone Company in Louisville, Hopkinsville and Pikeville, Kentucky.  When his father died in 1960, Felix inherited $267,000.  In 1966, Felix moved to Florida where he became a full-time private investor in the stock market. 

Felix returned to Greenville in 1996 to care for his mother, who died in 2001, at the age of 98.  Felix inherited over $8 million from his mother, but he continued to live modestly in the home his parents had built in 1929 on North Main Street in Greenville.  He also managed the Martin House Apartments, built shortly after the Civil War and purchased by Felix’s grandfather in 1899.  Just like the many generations who came before him, Felix was a lifelong member of the Greenville United Methodist Church. 

Felix passed away on November 15, 2007 at the age of 80.  By the time of his death, he had increased his estate to more than $60 million. 

Felix left a generous bequest to his church as well as to his alma maters —the McCallie School and the University of Kentucky.  He bequeathed $2.8 million to each educational institution, which provides annual scholarships to deserving students from Muhlenberg County. 

Remarkably, Felix left the bulk of his estate—over $50 million dollars—to establish the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation.  He specified in his Will that the foundation would support the civic, cultural and educational needs of Muhlenberg County. 

The Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation will honor the life of this generous local citizen, and his legacy will enhance the lives of individuals living and working in Muhlenberg County for generations to come.