Christmas decorations and photos greet the visitor at Terry Martin’s legal office, showing his interest in the holiday. Then Martin enters the room, resplendent with a flowing white beard. Does he like to portray Santa Claus? “I am Santa Claus,” he says emphatically.
Martin started growing a beard while on a cruise vacation. Upon his return, a friend had a Santa suit and asked Martin to make a few appearances. Martin visited hospitals, private parties and posed with children when requested. A big success, he continues the practice each year. “It is easy to get caught up in the excitement shown by the children,” says Martin. He was Santa at Busch Gardens for four years and at the Newport News Woman’s Club for 10 years. Initially, he trimmed the beard after Christmas, and then grew it back every year. “Now I keep it year round,” he says.
Martin currently has a solo law practice. He takes on a variety of cases: family law (child custody, adoption, divorce, marital property, for example), personal injury, criminal defense, traffic violations. His practice includes corporate law, wills and trusts. “I don’t do bankruptcies,” Martin says. Legal matters are handled quickly in order to minimize harmful effects on children. “People want a quick resolution so they can get on with their lives,” says Martin. He provides a free half-hour consultation for new clients. With more than 50 years of experience, Martin can handle anything that comes his way.
Martin came to the Virginia Peninsula as a child in 1946. His father set up a law practice in Newport News. Martin graduated from St. Vincent’s School (now Peninsula Catholic) in 1957 and went to Notre Dame. He had visited the campus while in high school and thought it was “fabulous.” He learned to play the trumpet and joined the marching band. “I have some great memories,” he says, “but it was so cold that icicles formed on my spit valve.” Martin returns occasionally for football games. “I am a semi-active alum,” he says. “Notre Dame is a wonderful place to be from (emphasis on ‘from’).”
Martin graduated from the University of Virginia Law School. During his last two years, he played rugby. He laughs at the memory that his position was called a “hooker.” Martin was in ROTC and after graduation he was assigned to the Military Police Corps as a first lieutenant. He served his full tour in France and made captain. “It was certainly not a hardship tour. My mother was able to visit me several times.” While in Paris, he took the opportunity to “run with the bulls” in Pamplona. “I kept a safe distance, of course,” he adds.
Martin returned home in 1967. His father had died, and his law practice was gone. Martin worked in the Newport News assistant district attorney’s office for 1½ years. He then set up his own solo practice in Denbigh. He has since kept his private practice, relocating a few times. He has been in his current location for two years. “I’m not thinking about retiring,” Martin says. He has two sons—one in D.C., one in Newport News—and a grandchild.
Martin served on the Newport News City Council from 1990 to 2002. “It was a most rewarding experience,” he says. He became very involved in the Sister Cities program. Newport News has three Sister Cities, located in China, Japan and Germany. Martin has been able to visit China and Japan 10 times and Germany four times. “I would like to visit China again someday,” he adds. “The cultural exchange was fascinating. There was phenomenal progress from visit to visit.”
Julie Boulais (Boo-lay), Martin’s secretary/office manager, says Martin is “the best person I know.” She adds, “Everyone loves him. He helps any client, sometimes without payment. He can’t say no. He even makes house calls.” She calls him “a real Santa,” and then adds that he “uses his lawyer powers for good.”
Martin is a member of the Hampton Roads Digital Photography Club. This large club (400+ members) meets weekly and arranges photo walks. Members range in skill from beginner to professional. The club promotes education. Martin enjoys taking scenic photos, especially of birds. A number of his photos are framed and hanging in his office. He also sells photos at the Blue Skies Gallery in Hampton.
Martin has played the harmonica for 10 years. The local group, “Harmonica Plus,” meets regularly and plays occasional venues such as Holly Dazzle. “It is super fun,” says Martin. He gives away harmonicas to promote the instrument. Pickleball is another of Martin’s many interests.
Does he prefer any particular type of legal case? “Whatever walks in my door next,” he replies.
TO THE POINT
Oyster Point Law–Terrence K. Martin, Attorney at Law
Address: 727 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Ste. E, Newport News VA 23601