Three-time Welsh mayor ‘Jimmy’ Martin dies at 88
Five-term state representative ‘servant to the town’
WELSH — Former Welsh mayor and retired state representative James “Jimmy” Martin died Sunday. He was 88.
Martin was a lifelong resident of Welsh and active in civic and political affairs, having first been elected mayor in 1967 and re-elected without opposition in 1971. He continued to serve as mayor until his election as District 37 state representative in 1972 for which he served five terms. He served a third term as mayor from 1993-1996.
Current Mayor Carolyn Louviere, who has known Martin all her life, said considered him an ambassador for his hometown.
“I’ve always known Jimmy and he has served this town his whole life,” she said. “I will always think of him as a servant to the town.”
Mary Sue Lyon, who succeeded Martin as mayor, said he had a passion for local government and serving the people of Welsh and Louisiana.
“He always said Welsh was a progressive community and he had a lot of ideas and worked for that,” Lyon said. “I will remember him as a good and fair man.”
During his terms as mayor, Martin played a significant role in the development of Welsh, including paving the streets, starting a sidewalk project downtown and working to improve the town’s electrical system. Many of those accomplishes were recognized in 1971 when the town received the Louisiana Municipal Association Award for outstanding municipal improvements.
Shirley Meche, who served as town clerk under Martin for four years, said he was devoted to Welsh.
“His heart was always for the town,” Meche said.
Meche said she will remember Martin as very compassionate, kind and generous man.
“He was a good friend as well as a boss,” she said.
With Memorial Day approaching, many Welsh residents said Martin will be remembered for his efforts to place more than 300 American flags on veterans’ graves in Welsh cemeteries, a tradition the Welsh Rotary Club continues today.
Martin’s first venture in the field of public office resulted in his election to the Parish Democratic Committee in 1956 when he replaced his late father, Dr. Claude A. Martin.
While serving as a state representative, Martin served on the House and Governmental Affairs committee, chaired the Subcommittee on Ethics and served as a member of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and the Retirement Committee. He also served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the Joint Commission on Agriculture. He also served on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, of the Southern Legislative Conference for State Government and was a member of the Municipal and Parochial Affairs Committee in the House.
He was an Army veteran and a member of the American Legion, Rotary Club, Elks Lodge, Calcasieu Area Council on Boy Scouts of America, Knights of Columbus, Mermentau-Vermilion Basin Association, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, National Rice Grower’s Association, National Association of Life Underwriters, Louisiana Farm Bureau and the Jennings and Welsh chambers of commerce and others.
His recognitions include the Silver Beaver Award from the Boys Scouts, the Citizen of the Year Award from the Diocese of Lake Charles and the Order of Merit from the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus.
He also owned and managed several commercial and agriculture properties in Jeff Davis Parish.
He was a graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala.