The many people who knew her over the years say Alton lost one of its leading advocates with the passing of Alice Martin, a 10-year city alderwoman.
She passed away Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Robings Manor in Brighton.
“She was a tremendous woman: a Christian lady and a great person,” Alton Mayor Brant Walker says.
Walker held a moment of silence in her memory at the city council meeting the day after her passing.
Walker knew Martin many years, personally and professionally. They met through the friendship of their daughters and he called on her in her capacity as a city representative when he ran a business in the 4th Ward before becoming mayor.
He notes she was extremely responsive to him when he called her for help and emphasizes that she always returned his calls.
Walker says she cared deeply about her constituency. She demonstrated dignity and compassion and was very hands-on, he says.
“When something was happening, she was at the scene,” he says.
Martin graduated from Alton High School in 1960 and attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She worked for 25 years with the Alton Mental Health Center, retiring as a mental health technician.
Her other civic contributions included serving as president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 124 as well as participating with the Illinois Association of Minorities in Government, the Illinois Democratic Women and the Southern Illinois Democratic Women Network. She also was a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the Coalition for Concerned Citizens.
Former Alton Mayor Donald Sandidge appointed Martin to the 4th Ward seat in March 2006. She was the first woman to serve on the city council in more than 20 years.
Her constituency subsequently elected her to four-year terms in 2009 and 2013.
Martin was instrumental in resolving issues in her precinct and worked hard for city improvements. Walker points out she was key in bringing improvements to Killion Park such as resurfacing the basketball court, installing new lighting, putting in the playground and facilitating sidewalk improvements.
Walker says she was also instrumental in facilitating in-fill housing in Alton. In-fill housing involves rehabilitating existing housing structures and creating opportunities for people to move from rental to home ownership.
Charlie Brake has served as 5th Ward alderman for almost 20 years and met Martin when she became a member of the council. He says members of his own family have known Martin for 25 years and that people had nothing but positive statements about her.
Brake says he worked with Martin to help low-income senior citizens who needed safety improvements in their homes.
“Alice was very involved,” he says. “She consistently worked with the administration to get things done for the people in her precinct. She did an exemplary job of representing her constituency.”
He says Martin also took decisive action on crime-related issues in her ward.
“She worked directly with the police chief when she became of aware of things like drugs or gunshots in her area,” he says. “She worked like a bulldog to get matters like that resolved.”
Brake has been helping support 4th Ward issues since Martin has been absent. The last city council meeting she attended was June 22.
Martin is survived by her husband, Douglas; her son Jon F. Martin; and a grandson, Jon F. Martin Jr. Two of her children, Douglas Martin Jr. and Carla Martin, preceded her in death.