Father Martin Is Dead; Used Fight With Alcohol to Aid Others

Father Joe Martin

Father Joe Martin

From the New York Times, March 15, 2009

The Rev. Joseph C. Martin, whose battle with alcoholism inspired him to become a national leader in the fight against the disease by speaking, writing books, making videos and starting a treatment center, died March 9 at his home in Havre de Grace, Md. He was 84.

The Rev. Joseph C. Martin used his struggle to aid others.

The probable cause of death was heart failure, said Rosemary Ostmann, a spokeswoman for Ashley, the highly rated treatment center Father Martin started near Havre de Grace. The center, sometimes called “the Betty Ford Clinic of the East,” says it has helped more than 40,000 people, including several celebrities.

Father Martin first became widely known through a talk he gave on the 12 steps of recovery propounded by Alcoholics Anonymous. He sometimes began with a preface similar to the one every alcoholic uses to address meetings of the organization, changing it to give his full name: “My name is Joe Martin, and I’m an alcoholic.”

With no preaching or moralizing, he spoke plainly of alcoholism as a sickness, not an evil. He used a blackboard and chalk, and in 1972, the Navy filmed the speech to use for mandatory addiction training, titling the movie “The Blackboard Talk.” The speech came to be known as “the chalk talk,” and subsequent videos of it and more than 40 more talks that Father Martin made were used in other branches of the military and throughout the federal government as well as in hospitals, corporations and treatment centers around the world.

Read the rest at – Rev. Joseph C. Martin Is Dead at 84

EXTRA – Father Martin, ‘ultimate miracle worker,’ laid to rest, The Catholic Review
EXTRA – Co-Founder of Father Martin’s Ashley, Washington Post

Father Martin’s eulogy, on video below, is from the Baltimore Sun.