According to many who knew Martin King, instrument maker and machinist in the Department of Physics, there was very little that the self-taught master repairman couldn’t fix.
King, a Fordham employee for 43 years, died Nov. 4 at the age of 69 after a brief illness. King was hired as a machinist at Fordham in 1965, shortly after arriving from Co. Kerry, Ireland, and was always ready to help fix what was broken.
“Martin could look at something and figure out how it worked, why it wasn’t working and how it had to be redesigned to work,” said Benjamin Crooker, Ph.D., associate professor of physics. “He was really brilliant that way. When people needed things fixed, he was often the one who got called—that included Jesuits who had a favorite golf club.
“We’re going to miss him,” Crooker said.
In the physics department, King was responsible for setting up equipment for weekly labs for the students. Over the years, Crooker said, King also maintained and repaired countless items all over the Fordham campus. He maintained the Keating Hall Tower clock and on occasion climbed the old WFUV-FM radio antenna to service it. He also repaired the grandfather clock in the Office of the President.
At graduation, King was responsible for maintaining the stands that hold Fordham’s colorful banners. And in his workshop in the basement of Freeman Hall, King machined new parts for the decorative lampposts near the University Church, whether they were damaged by weather or by wayward drivers.
In his earlier days at Fordham, he used to arrive at 5:30 a.m. to change the photographic paper in the pitch dark in the University’s historic Seismic Observatory, built in 1910.
But King took his job far beyond the scope of its duties, said friends and family. He frequently worked with students in designing and building experiments for their doctoral theses. In the 1980s, he worked closely with Ted Dengler (FCO ’83) to make energy-producing windmills when the green movement was still in its infancy. The windmills were built and set up along Fordham’s Southern Boulevard entrance.
“Students would come to my dad with their plans, and he helped work out the kinks,” wrote King’s son, Patrick (FCRH ’99, GBA ’07). “Some even said he deserved a doctorate for helping so many people earn theirs.”
“There was no one he wouldn’t help and no one he spoke bad about—except, of course, Maggie Thatcher,” he added.
King is survived by his wife, Eleanor; daughter, Michelle (FCRH ’94); son, Patrick; and the many landmarks and equipment on the Fordham campus that he helped maintain over four decades.
“I cannot tell you how honored and proud my dad will be looking down from heaven to know the impact he had on the Fordham community,” added Patrick.