Jim Martin, who helped build the Kansas University Endowment Association into an organization with more than $1 billion in assets, died Thursday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
He was 66.
Martin served as president of KU Endowment from 1991 to 2002, retiring as the organization boasted $1.02 billion in assets, up from $48 million when he arrived as a director of program development in 1974.
The legacy of his dedicated service, detail-oriented work and behind-the-scenes efforts will live on for decades and beyond, said Todd Seymour, who preceded Martin as the association’s president.
“As long as there’s a university, that will never quit,” Seymour said.
Martin joined the Endowment Association after working in a similar role at what is now Valley City State University in North Dakota, where he’d taught English and met his wife, the former Kathy Koenig.
In Lawrence, Martin would lead efforts to raise money for building the Lied Center on West Campus, and would lead Campaign Kansas — a five-year capital campaign that started at $150 million, grew to $177 million and ended, in 1992, at $265 million.
“Jim Martin played a significant role in building one of the largest endowments among America’s state universities,” said Gene Budig, who served as KU chancellor from 1981 to 1994. “He never tired of hard work, and thoroughly enjoyed soliciting for the University of Kansas. He believed he had an exceptional product to sell.”
Martin maintained a special connection with KU and its mission, Budig said.
“He was a leader in the field of fundraising, but I always thought that he would have been just as comfortable as a professor in English,” said Budig, who himself spent 28 years as a professor in journalism and educational finance. “He knew many faculty and held them in the highest regard.”
Dale Seuferling, the association’s current president, considered Martin to be “the ultimate professional in every way.” And Dolph C. Simons Jr., a former chairman of the association, described him as an asset not only for the association and university, but all of higher education as well.
In 2007 Martin received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion from the KU Alumni Association, recognizing his distinguished service to KU.
“He conducted himself in a professional manner which reflected credit on the university and the Endowment Association,” said Simons, chairman of The World Company, which owns the Journal-World. “He enjoyed the respect and trust of thousands of university alumni and friends who were generous to the university through the Endowment Association.
“He was proud of the university and never wanted to do anything which would embarrass the school or the Endowment Association. He was a joy to work with.”
Funeral services are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt., said Martin’s son, Grant Martin. The family suggests memorials to the Jim Martin Memorial Scholarship, with the Endowment Association, and Heart of America Hospice, in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.