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ACOG Mourns the Passing and Celebrates the Extraordinary Career of Former President James N. Martin Jr, MD, FACOG, FRCOG
James (Jim) N. Martin Jr, MD, former president of ACOG, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology and maternal–fetal medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), and Adjunct Professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest Baptist, died September 10, 2021. He was a preeminent global authority on the hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, directly and indirectly saving and improving the lives of innumerable patients worldwide. His friends and colleagues remember him too for his exquisite professionalism and immense personal resilience.
Dr. Martin trained countless residents and maternal–fetal medicine fellows in Mississippi. He is known nationwide and around the world for his work with ACOG, the Society for Maternal–Fetal Medicine, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and countless other medical organizations. He was a researcher, a scientist, a great physician, and a generous colleague and friend. Dr. Martin’s immense contribution to organized medicine included presidencies of the North American Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy and the Society for Maternal–Fetal Medicine. He was fellow ad eundem of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a distinguished medical alumnus of the University of North Carolina. His work continued into retirement, with international speaking appearances and positions with the Preeclampsia Foundation, the Mississippi State Perinatal Quality Collaborative Steering Committee, and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
In 2011, Dr. Martin became the 62nd president of ACOG and appointed a task force to review, study, and distill the medical literature on preeclampsia. The resulting publication, “Hypertension in Pregnancy,” published in 2013, is used worldwide to guide the care of pregnancies complicated by hypertension.
Dr. Martin was “a giant in obstetrics,” said ACOG President J. Martin Tucker, MD, FACOG, at Dr. Martin’s induction into the UMMC Medical Alumni Hall of Fame in 2016. Dr. Tucker noted that when Dr. Martin joined the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UMMC in 1981, he was the first fellowship-trained, board-certified maternal–fetal medicine subspecialist in Mississippi. During his more than three decades at UMMC, Dr. Martin was a prolific researcher, writer, and speaker. He served in numerous capacities, including his long-term directorship of the division of maternal–fetal medicine, and retired as a full professor. “He has touched the lives of hundreds of medical students in our state, scores of residents, and dozens of fellows,” said Dr. Tucker in 2016. “He is a true professional in every aspect of his life. In fact, his ACOG inaugural address was titled Take the High Road—and Learn to Dance.”
During his ACOG presidency, Dr. Martin was also dedicated to global women’s health care and proud of advancing gender equity within the organization. Previously, he served ACOG District VII as secretary-treasurer, vice chair, and chair, and served the national organization as secretary. His 12-year tenure on the executive board is among the longest in the history of the College. In 2013, he addressed a regional ACOG meeting on overcoming obstacles and delivered a talk called Three Strikes but Still on Base—Lessons of Leadership, reportedly mesmerizing the audience. “His lessons in how to meet and even conquer adversity will be lessons I cherish for the rest of my days,” said Dr. Tucker.
Dr. Martin was born in Maryland. He graduated from Wake Forest University and completed his medical school and residency training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His postgraduate fellowships took him to Stockholm, Sweden, working on reproductive physiology with the World Health Organization, and to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, for maternal–fetal medicine. He joined the faculty of UMMC after a short period at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Martin was preceded in death by his parents Winifred Nelson Martin and the Honorable James Nello Martin, Gloria's parents Lester and Cecile Howard, and his brother-in-law Paul Venancio. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gloria Howard Martin; son Brent Howard Martin (Katharine) of Winston Salem, North Carolina; daughter Rachel Martin Butler (Sim) of Birmingham, Alabama; goddaughter Maria Poole Madden (James) of Birmingham, Alabama; and four grandchildren: Megan (Meg) Butler, Annabel Martin, Cecilia (Celie) Butler, and Rosalie Martin. He is also survived by sister Kathryn (Kitty) Venancio, of Summerville, South Carolina; brother and sister-in-law Darrell and Barbara Martin, of Madison, Mississippi; Gloria's sister and brother-in-law Anita and Graham Talbott, of Concord, North Carolina; and beloved nieces and nephews and their children.
A memorial service will be held in the sanctuary of Northminster Baptist Church in Jackson on Saturday, September 25, at 10 a.m. CT. Out of respect for the health care workers responding to COVID-19, the gathering will be for family only. However, friends are invited to gather safely in other places and join the livestream through Northminster Baptist Church’s website by clicking the Watch Live button.
Dr. Martin’s full obituary can be read in the Clarion Ledger.