Outside of Tallahassee Fred Martin was hardly a household name. In the state capital he was a well respected lobbyist who made friends wherever he went. However, outside of Capital Circle I doubt few knew who Fred was. I don’t think that was something he ever cared about. People’s lives and contributions to the world should not be defined by name recognition. Their lives should be measured, at least in part, by their character and how they treated their fellow human beings during their brief time on this planet. That is how I will remember Fred.
During my many years working in the Capitol I would always describe Fred as “the nicest man in Tallahassee.” That was not a term I used lightly. There are many wonderful people who work in Florida’s capital city who do great things on behalf of their fellow Floridians. Their efforts often go unsung. Navigating the maze of politics and policy can be a tricky feat. Fred was one of those unique people who did so with grace and a low-key manner that set him apart from most because he made his business secondary to his relationships.
Fred cared about the things in your life that exist beyond the confines of the statute books. Asking for help with a bill or an amendment was almost an afterthought with Fred. Getting to know you as a person was first and foremost his priority. In a town where so many people want something from you, Fred almost seemed reluctant to ask for help. Rather, Fred seemed to prefer chatting about anything but work, which can be refreshing on a stressful day.
Fred knew his stuff. He worked first as a legislative staffer and later as a governmental consultant. His lobbying firm was not a Tallahassee powerhouse, but I never got the impression that he ever wanted it to be. He seemed happy representing his clients and representing them well. I never once heard him complain about anything except, perhaps, a random remark about his beloved Seminoles not playing as well as they should be.
I don’t have any fantastic stories to tell about Fred. He was not one of those people who was ever at the center of controversy. He never sought the spotlight. He was not flamboyant, far from it. In fact, Fred was about as laid back as anyone could be in the lobbying corps. What I do remember about Fred are the countless times he came by my office over the years to just chat. He would sit across from me and tell me stories about many things, not the least of which was the legislative process and how it has changed over the years. He took a genuine interest in my family and always wanted to know how they were doing. He cared about building a personal relationship, something that not enough people seem interested in doing any more.
I will always remember Fred as someone with a ready smile and a kind word. His sincere and genuine manner touched me many times. I was privileged to think of Fred as a friend. If you knew Fred or have a story of your own to tell please leave a comment. His memory will live on through those of us who knew him.