Rayfus Martin dies, was Franklinton's first black councilman

Rayfus Martin, who was Franklinton’s first elected black alderman, passed away at the age of 89. He served as an alderman for 20 years. Martin was a well-known local teacher before his retirement. At Franklinton High School, he taught English and History. Even after retirement he continued to find ways to contribute. He taught English and other subjects to inmates at the Washington Parish Jail. Martin was also involved heavily in local civic activities. He also served on the board of directors for Good Samaritan Living Center. He was a veteran of the Korean War, and was one of Franklinton’s biggest boosters of veterans’ causes. He served as a member of the board of directors for American Legion Post #537. Martin frequently represented the Post in awarding scholarships and other honors at local high schools. Martin had a saying, which he repeated often, “When a boy goes bad, a man dies.” Rayfus Martin was a regular visitor to the office of The Era-Leader. He came to the office each Tuesday to get his newspaper, explaining that he didn’t want to wait to get it in the mail a day later on Wednesday. He was the subject of a column written by Cecily Bateman shortly before his death. He tried to act low-key about the column, but staffers at The Era-Leader later learned that he had very casually asked friends around Franklinton if they happened to read the newspaper the week he was featured in the column. But Martin came to the newspaper office at other times also. If he felt coverage was lacking --- or wrong --- in certain areas, he politely but very definitely brought it to the newspaper’s attention. Martin had a tremendous amount of knowledge and plenty of interest in a variety of subjects. He never hesitated to ask others what their opinions were on the topics of the day, frequently leading to lively discussions. Services for Rayfus Martin were held at his beloved church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church on Max Brumfield Road.


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