The Buckhead law firm of Morris, Manning & Martin LLP is mourning the loss of one of the firm’s name partners, Arthur B.L. Martin, 87, who died Monday of complications from heart failure. The funeral is Thursday at 2 p.m. at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead.
Known to his colleagues and friends as “A.B.,” his real estate law practice played a significant role in the growth of metro Atlanta. Anyone who has driven on Ga. 400 near Peachtree Road can see the result of his work.
“A.B. was one of a kind,” said Sonny Morris, a partner and co-founder of the firm. “In knowing him and being inspired by his indomitable spirit and tenacity, we were all motivated to be our very best. A.B.’s contributions to the growth and prominence of the firm have played a significant role in the current success of our firm. We are in his debt and owe him a great sense of gratitude.”
Martin joined the 37-year-old law firm in 1984. An innovator in commercial real estate law, he represented many of the region’s leading lending institutions, developers, property managers and operators involved in all areas of commercial real estate. His many notable accomplishments included negotiating and drafting all the documentation for the construction, ownership and operation of a tunnel under the Atlanta Financial Center in Buckhead. MARTA trains and thousands of cars driving down 400 now run through that tunnel every day.
“A.B. was an excellent real estate attorney who was a giant among Atlanta’s commercial real estate lawyers, practicing more than 50 years,” said partner and co-founder Frank Bazzel. “A.B. was the most important lawyer to join our firm. He gave the firm credibility and presence in the Atlanta business community, which was fundamental to the firm’s growth and prosperity since then. A.B. did not know any strangers, and he knew everyone. He had an infectious, very charismatic personality. In a business meeting, he had a very forceful presence that typically won his point of view. Although he could be forceful, he was charming. He had wonderful and natural people skills. He was always smiling and had a knack of making others smile. No one was a better storyteller. He was always very positive with a ‘glass half full’ attitude – truly one of the sweetest, kindest men you could know.”
During Martin’s tenure, the firm grew from a small company with only a few dozen lawyers to become one of the 200 largest in the country. The many honors he received over his career included the State Bar of Georgia’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Real Estate Law, the George A. Pindar Award. The Georgia Real Property Section of the Bar gave Martin the honor in 2003, noting he brought both skill and infectious enthusiasm to everything he did, while mentoring three generations of real estate lawyers.
He was also a friend to police, firefighters and other first responders. He founded and was chairman emeritus of the 300 Club of Atlanta, a nonprofit service organization that supported metro Atlanta law enforcement and public safety officials. He also dedicated tremendous time to board service for organizations including The Atlanta International School, The Schenck School, The A.G. Rhodes Home and St. Joseph’s Mercy Foundation. He had also been a member of National Kidney Foundation of Georgia Golf Committee, and chaired the finance committee for Peachtree Presbyterian Church. He also belonged to the Lawyers Club of Atlanta, The International Council of Shopping Centers and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
Martin retired from the firm in 2000 but remained active in the community and often attended its events.
“Morris, Manning & Martin is mourning the loss of a friend, mentor and leader,” said Managing Partner Louise M. Wells. “A.B. will live on within the halls of MMM. His personality and character helped define the firm. He will be missed by all.”