Cress Funeral Home



James L. Martin
March 18, 1945 - June 29, 2019

James L. Martin

James L. Martin
Mar 18, 1945 - Jun 29, 2019

James L. Martin
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James L. "Jim" Martin

Jim Martin, 74, passed away June 29, 2019 after a brief illness. He was born March 18, 1945 in Colp, IL as the eldest son of James Lee Martin and Byrdella Webb-Martin. On June 2, 1989 Jim married his beloved wife, Debra.

Jim grew up in Racine, WI and graduated from Racine Park High School in 1963. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Dubuque and went on to earn his Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1977. After law school, he was hired as the Assistant City Attorney for Madison until he became the Madison City Attorney until 2003 when he was appointed as a Dane County Circuit Judge, serving until his retirement in July 2009.

Jim was known for his great love of sports. He was a three sport athlete in both high school and college. He was inducted into the Racine Park High School Sports Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was also inducted into the University of Dubuque Athletics Hall of Fame. Over 50 years later, he still has a school record for most interceptions in a single season with eight and for most career interceptions with 24. His love of sports continued when he was hired as an assistant football coach for the University of Wisconsin under John Jardine. He was a basketball referee for over 25 years including several state WIAA tournaments. An avid golfer, he completed his bucket list of golfing 18-holes in each of the 50 states.

A community servant throughout his life, he was involved in many groups a few of which include: The State Bar of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Judicial Council, the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility, Badger Basketball Boosters, and the Southwest Wisconsin Officials Association. At his time of death, he was serving on the Board of Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, the Board of Trustees at the University of Dubuque, the Board of the Wisconsin Senior Golf Association and as a Commissioner of the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters Melba and Saundra. He is survived by his wife Debra, son David, brothers Gary and Marcus of Racine, WI, sister Kendall from Toledo, OH, nephews Gregory and Scott, and nieces Yvette and Angie, along with many other loved family members.

Memorial donations may be made to Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, 2445 Darwin Road, Madison, WI 53704 or The University of Dubuque, 2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, IA 52001.

A visitation will be held Friday, August 9, 2019 from 9:00-11:30 a.m. at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Ave, Middleton, WI 53705. A Celebration of Life will be held immediately following the visitation.

Healing Registry on Aug 8, 2019

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Chris Turner on Jul 14, 2019

A chance meeting 17 years ago at a Sarasota golf club brought Jim and Deb into our lives. Our family have since been truly blessed to share so many experiences with them ranging from rollercoaster rides in Orlando with our sons, to ice fishing on a lake in Madison. Lots of fun, laughter, the odd glass of wine and many other wonderful rounds of transatlantic golf have followed that day.

If you are very lucky in life you get to meet a man like Jim and that day in Sarasota was truly our lucky day. Jim was a true gem. Deb described it as “love at first sight”, which I guess was pretty much true. We just hit it off straight away. We all feel huge amounts of love, respect, admiration and gratitude to Jim for being the friend and role model he was to us all.

Deb and David. No words can adequately express such sadness for the loss of a wonderful friend, father, and husband.

With heartfelt gratitude and pride for the joy of calling JJ our friend.

With love from your family across the pond.

Chris, Breda, Micheal and Sean.


Ed Holland on Jul 12, 2019

I have been in the hospital for awhile and am so sorry that I had missed hearing of Jimmy’s leaving for what we all hope to attain someday. Lost track of Jimmy after he graduated but reading his obituary and life’s accomplishments was no surprise to me. Jimmy was two years ahead of me and whether it was being a Phi O Brother, or teammate he always set the example of an intelligent, quite and caring soul who had the gift quite leadership. He was the first one to congratulate me when as a sophomore substitute had my first interception and was my dependable shortstop when I played across from him on second and when he graduated I always found it difficult to fill his shoes at short but felt proud to try. He was the brother whose sense of humor, encouragement and guidance helped me get through hell week. I feel so sad for his family’s loss but I know they must also feel so blessed to have lived under his daily light for so many years. Jimmy’s passing is certainly another deep crack in the bedrock of my life’s memory of those sweet souls who touched my life with their caring and guiding presence. God Bless you Jimmy.
Eddie Holland C 69

Clare Ingham on Jul 10, 2019

Debs, we’re so sad to hear of the passing of Jim. What an amazing man, husband, friend etc to many. He will be remembered with the fondest thoughts. Sending you huge hugs & love. Ady & Clare from Grayshott, UK xx

Tom Belter on Jul 10, 2019

Coach Martin will always be Coach to me. He took a bunch of unruly college kids and turned them football players. He was my first coach in Madison and he always treated us with dignity and respect (despite the frustration of dropped passes and bad route running). We've lost a true gentleman. Godspeed Coach

Jim Voss on Jul 8, 2019

Words really can't express the loss so many of us feel over Jim's passing. It was an honor to work with him for over 25 years as a colleague and as our boss during an important time in maintaining an independent Office of the City Attorney. His judicial appointment was a fitting tribute to a talented and dedicated public servant who brought empathy, fairness and truth to the bench. We could use many more like Jim, and are deeply saddened by his loss.

Roger Allen on Jul 8, 2019

CandleI will never forget Jim. I hope I have captured all that he intended to convey to me. He was a great teacher and caring mentor to all who worked with him. I am blessed to have known him and we all would do well to be a bit more like him, He was kind, patient, empathetic and intelligent. That he dedicated his life to public service is no surprise to any of us who knew him. My condolences to Deb and to all of Jim's family and friends. The world seems a lonelier place today, just knowing that Jim is no longer bound by earthly bonds.

Lara on Jul 8, 2019

Dear family of Jim, I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of Jim. Jim was an inspiring co-worker and boss when he became City Attorney, leading many of the younger Assistant City Attorneys by example, and the fact that he came back to be the City Attorney meant a lot. His accomplishments outside of the legal world are also an inspiration. I am sitting in what was Jim's office in 1997 when I started at the City Attorney's office and will always have fond memories of his time here...… a person taken too soon.... my condolences. Lara Mainella

Lauri Schwartz on Jul 7, 2019

Jim was a good man, and good at his job. I appreciated having him to work with on cases when I was an officer and a detective. I am proud to see he was working with Safe Harbor, the child advocacy center. I was one of the founding members with Judy Schwamele and Amy Orlin. It is so wonderful to have had him be a part of this important service. I am sorry for your loss. He will be missed, no doubt.

Whitey and Bonnie Hoffman on Jul 7, 2019

Dear Debbie, Whitey and my thoughts and prayers are with you and Jim up above. Love James and Bonnie Hoffman

Michael Passini on Jul 7, 2019

Coach Martin was my favorite coach at UW Madison. We stayed in touch over the years at Badger basketball games and golfed together several times at the John Jardine golf outing and reunion. We have lost a true gentleman and pillar in the community. I always wondered how things may have turned out had you coached us lineman for a few more years. Rest In Peace.

Robert G. Birrenkott on Jul 7, 2019

Condolences to the Martin Family, Jim was always great to work with for me when he was an Asst Attorney, he would always follow thru get you what you needed to do our jobs! I respected him and Jim was friendly and wanting to help! Retired Sgt City of Madison Police Dept Robert G. Birrenkott

Will Beadles (Jr) on Jul 7, 2019

TO the Martin family, so sorry for your loss.James was a great person. We had some good times back in the day. We grew up playing sports at Park High School. We also had some good times at the Racine street gym. RIP Jim.



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6021 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53705
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Madison, Wisconsin 53705
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