Obituary of Martin Thomas Durkin, Sr.
Martin Thomas Durkin, Sr. of Lexington, Kentucky, formerly of Ridgefield Park, NJ passed away on October 17, 2019 at the age of 88. He is predeceased by his loving wife Jane (nee Anthony), and siblings Frances Glackin and William Durkin. Beloved brother of Kathleen Ahrens, Hackettstown, NJ, and beloved father of Ruth (Russ) Mallett, Dover, MA; Jane (Terry) Samuel, Lexington, KY; Martin (Amy) Durkin, Syracuse, NY. Adored grandfather of Katherine Mallett (Carl) Zimmerman, Russell and Andrew Mallett, Elizabeth (Jesse) Matherly, Kathleen and Emma Samuel, Thomas and Emily Durkin. He is also survived by numerous nephews and nieces whom he fondly remembered in stories during his later years.
Martin had a distinguished career as a NJ attorney and was the recipient of the NJ Bar Association’s Fred G. Stickel Memorial Award for his contributions in the area of municipal law. In keeping with his passion for protecting the rights of municipal entities and the residents they serve, Martin was counsel of record in numerous cases on behalf of Ridgefield Park and nearby municipalities in his 50+ year career. Most notably, Martin (along with counsel from Teaneck) successfully enjoined Bergen County from allowing the county to operate a landfill on land that had been donated by Ridgefield Park and Teaneck for use as a park. This land now comprises Overpeck County Park, regarded as one of the top ten parks in NJ.
Ever a lover of the land, Martin was an active member of the Shade Tree Commission and avid gardener. When not out in the yard, he could be found pouring over gardening books and the Farmer’s Almanac. His love of flowers grew out of his work in college at the Hautau Farm greenhouses that graced Bergenfield in the 1950’s. Though Martin continued to work until age 79, he could be enticed away by Jane to relax at Lake George, NY or travel in the US and abroad. He especially enjoyed visiting all his grandchildren and was proud of each of them.
A man of strong faith and ethics, he was a graduate of St. Cecilia’s High School in Englewood, St. Peter’s College and NYU Law School. Over his life he was on several local boards and committees and believed strongly in service. In his later years he enjoyed sharing stories with his grandchildren and caregivers regarding his education and his childhood, including how he played at Cooper’s Pond with his brother, watched over his baby sister, relied on his oldest sister’s help to gain admission to law school, worked summers as a postal employee, and encountered future Supreme Court Justice Brennan on his train ride to work for the NJ Attorney General.
Quiet and ever humble, grateful and supportive, Martin will be dearly missed by his family, friends and caregivers. Funeral arrangements Kerr Brothers (KY) and Vorhees-Ingwersen Funeral Home, Ridgefield Park, NJ. Visitation November 8th, 4-7pm at Vorhees-Ingwersen Funeral Home. Funeral mass November 9th at 11am at St. Francis RC Church, Ridgefield Park, NJ, followed by burial at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Tenafly, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Peter’s University, 2641 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07306 and St. Francis Church RC, Ridgefield Park, NJ.