Kilgore is saying goodbye to a remarkable man who spent decades serving the citizens of the City of Stars.
Martaine John L. “Mart” Lapin, 88, died peacefully July 30 at his home in Orono, Maine.
Mart was born May 15, 1932, in Dallas, Texas, the son of J. M. and Olga H. Lapin. He resided in Kilgore until moving to Maine in 1987 with his wife, Mary.
Mart earned his Associate’s Degree from Kilgore College, his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, his M.A. from the University of Texas at Tyler, and his S.J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He practiced law in Kilgore for 32 years, and was Municipal Court Judge for the City of Kilgore for 26 years.
Mart and his mother Olga were committed to Kilgore and its residents, according to former News Herald owner and co-publisher, editor and current municipal archivist and community relations manager Bill Woodall.
The two were partners at the same law firm and practiced together for many years.
“Mart was a city judge and was heavily involved in Kilgore. He grew up here and his mom was really a kind of legendary figure. Mart survived her by many years. He really tried to live up to his mom’s legacy while he was here,” Woodall said.
Local Terry Stembridge noted Olga Lapin was the first female attorney in Gregg County in 1938 and served on the local bar association’s board of directors.
Both Olga and Mart were known for their charitable dispositions to locals in need of legal assistance.
“They both gave away a lot of legal services. They were very generous with their services, that’s what I’ve been told,” Woodall said.
Woodall said he came to know Mart by corresponding with him through email while Mart was working on a biography of his legendary mother.
The biography chronicled Olga’s achievements, from her groundbreaking status as the first female attorney in Gregg County to her nomination as the very first First Lady of Kilgore. She was also the first woman on the Kilgore ISD school board, as well as its first female president.
“She was really quite an important figure in the history of Kilgore and they were in practice together until she died,” Woodall said.
“Mart was great congenial guy and a generous kind of guy,” he added, noting the attorney once shipped him a jar of pickled fiddlehead fern, a treat popular in Maine.
A longtime neighbor of Mar’s, Billy Bob Brady, described Mart as “a great neighbor” with a friendly and warm disposition.
Woodall remarked on Mart’s photograph accompanying his obituary:
“That picture just describes how I envisioned Mart – a cheerful, pleasant guy.”