NAHB Mourns the Death of 1998 President Don Martin
Donald D. “Don” Martin, who served as president of NAHB in 1998, died on Dec. 3 at the age of 74 after suffering a stroke.
Martin was a second-generation home builder whose company, Martin Development Corp., operated in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The son of a custom home builder in Larned, Kan., Martin built more than 9,000 homes during his career.
Martin was the first NAHB president to come from New Mexico. While president, he led the association’s successful effort to increase the loan limits of the Federal Housing Administration and to expand homeownership opportunities. He also helped to initiate studies at various universities — including Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies — showing the positive effects of homeowership to the community.
He was a long-time advocate of affordable housing. With an abiding interest in promoting U.S. building internationally, he was appointed to a Department of Commerce U.S.-China Residential Building Council in 1999, becoming chairman of that group in 2000.
In recognition of his lasting contribution to the nation’s housing industry, Martin was inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame in 2004.
He attended the University of Kansas on ROTC and football scholarships, graduating in 1957 with a degree in geology. After college, he flew jets and helicopters and achieved the rank of captain during a 4-1/2-year stint with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Set realistic goals, map a strategy and develop a process for measuring your progress,” Martin said. “Build a consensus, utilize the skills and talents of those around you and stimulate a spirit of teamwork to pursue those objectives.”
Martin began his career in the mid 1960s selling homes for a national home building company in Phoenix. After setting impressive sales records for the company, he gave up his plans for graduate school and moved up the corporate ladder of Wood Brothers, eventually moving to Denver and becoming senior vice president in charge of building operations in five states — Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, Maryland and Arizona.
In the mid-1980s, he opened his own company.
Before becoming president, Martin served on the NAHB Executive Committee and in various leadership positions, including vice chairman of the Budget Committee and chairman of the Resolutions Committee. He served as a trustee of the Home Builders Institute, the educational arm of NAHB, and was a member of the Board of Governors of the National Housing Center.
Martin was president of the New Mexico Home Builders Association in 1979 and in 1986 he was president of the Metro Denver Home Builders Association.
For the past seven years, he served as a broker and vice president at Grubb & Ellis New Mexico, specializing in land sales and commercial building sites in the state.
Martin remained actively involved in the NAHB federation up until his death, and the New Mexico HBA Don Martin Leadership Award was named for him.
Martin is survived by his wife, Willa; daughter Robin Young; son-in-law Erik Young; grandchildren, Alex and Audrey Young; two sisters, Janet Sue Holman and Dolores Lee Reichel; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.