Oliver Wendel Martin III was born on November 25, 1958 and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Sciences from Robert Morris University. He worked for a time in Green Bay, Wisconsin, before settling in New York City. His life's work was promoting curriculum and resources for people living with HIV-AIDS and ways to prevent the spread of the disease.
Martin was the founder and CEO of Conscious Contact of New York; administrative chair of NYC Faith in Action for HIV and AIDS Coalition; national administrative leader, National Faith in Action for HIV and AIDS. He also served as president of the board for the National United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network (UCAN) and was the lead organizer for many years of multiple community events such as: World AIDS Day, the Annual Week of Stepping Up In Faith for HIV and AIDS, Christmas in July at Riverside Church.
"Oliver was a dear friend and an amazing leader," said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, director of UCAN. "His relentless passion for justice and vision for a church and world fully engaged in HIV response lit up many a room. He knew how to bring diverse people together and his warm spirit set people at ease to deal with difficult questions. For the past nine years, he served UCAN and the national setting of the church in a variety of capacities, often going above and beyond the call. We will do well to draw inspiration from the witness of his life, so faithfully and generously lived."
Martin served on the board of Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ and on the Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) until mid-2013. Oliver received numerous awards and honors including: Life Changers Award 2014 from the Love Alive International Foundation, Inc.; Positive Change Makers Award 2012; Citation from NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for HIV/AIDS Ministry Leadership with the Riverside Church, NYC 2007; The New York AIDS Coalition Vanguard Award 2003.
In January 2014, Martin agreed to become a charter member of Space for Grace Fellowship Center, a new church start in the greater Lansing, Michigan area.
Martin brought people together from numerous parts of many communities. His ability to create, coordinate, and collaborate with hundreds of people is nothing short of amazing. He had an exceptional ability to plan events down to the minutest details, way in advance, and make them come off like well synchronized works of art. Oliver was thought of as a virtuoso convener of people, a disseminator of life-affirming, life-saving, and life-improving information and resources.
Martin died on April 19, 2014, survived by his partner of fourteen years, Craig Kania.
(Information for this profile taken from an obituary by Antony Moujaes from UCC News on April 22, 2014, and an obituary on the UCC Global Ministries web site, April 24, 2014)