James C. “Jim” Martin, a 1947 graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in chemistry, began his career as a junior research chemist with Eastman Kodak, a division of Tennessee Eastman. Becoming a research fellow in 1982, Martin found new ways to improve Eastman’s processes for raw materials, authoring or co-authoring more than 100 U.S. patents as well as several foreign patents. Martin ended his career as director of the Eastman Chemical Co. Chemistry Research Division in 1992.
Mary Beard, a lifelong resident of Johnson City, met Jim Martin during her own 44-year career at Tennessee Eastman Co. in Kingsport. She began there as a laboratory technician, then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from East Tennessee State University in 1962, studying nights and weekends while working full time at Eastman. As a research chemist, doing exploratory work in new polymer systems, Mary B. Martin was awarded two U.S. patents.
Married in 1966, the Martins were well-known patrons of the arts in the region, as well as being artistic and creative people themselves. Mary B. Martin died in 2008.