John Eppes Martin grew up in Waverly, Virginia. He spent his first year at Washington and Lee University studying engineering, but he decided to pursue a liberal arts degree instead. Martin received his Bachelor of Arts in 1911 and was a graduate student at the time of O∆K’s founding. He earned his Master of Arts degree at W&L in 1914.
As a student, Martin was a member of Alpha Chi Rho, served as the business manager of The Calayx, the college annual, and was a student instructor in English.
He served in the Navy during World War I. Martin was a leader of a group of men who were active submarine chasers. The boat on which he served was blown up in 1919, and he was injured. He was discharged from the Navy that same year.
After graduate school, Martin went to the McMaster School in Columbia, South Carolina. He returned to Virginia to become the high school principal and superintendent of schools in Suffolk, Virginia. Martin left these positions to serve in World War I, but he returned to leading the Suffolk school system. He is credited with developing the plans for the new Suffolk High School, which was built beginning in 1922.
Martin was a director of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, served as treasurer of the community’s Rotary Club, and was one of the Suffolk Boy Scouts organizers. He was also active in the Oxford Methodist Episcopal Church in Suffolk. He was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Laurel Cliff Country Club. In relation to his professional pursuits, Martin was a member of the Virginia State Teachers’ Association, and the Superintendents’ Conference of Virginia, the National Education Association.
History of Virginia. (1924). Vol. VI. Chicago, Ill. and New York, N.Y. The American Historical Society.
Nichols, Michael. (2014). The Laurel Crowned Circle: Omicron Delta Kappa and 100 Years of Leadership. Omicron Delta Kappa. Lexington, Va.