The founder of one of the area’s largest and oldest law firms has died.
Robert Martin, who helped found Martin Pringle Law Firm in 1951, died Monday.
He was 87.
Mr. Martin and Kenneth Pringle, who died in 2002, started a law firm that has grown into one with 43 lawyers and offices in Wichita and Overland Park.
Jeff Kennedy, managing partner of the firm, started working for the firm in 1986, based in part on the reputation Mr. Martin had developed as an oil and gas attorney.
“Bob had done many things during his long and very storied career,” Kennedy said, but he “made his reputation doing oil and gas litigation.”
Kennedy said Mr. Martin could be a “gladiator” in the courtroom.
But “Bob could turn from a pit bull to a kitty cat when his wife (Ann) was on the other end of the phone,” Kennedy said.
He also engendered loyalty from staff and clients, Kennedy said, adding that a secretary who recently retired from the firm and worked with Mr. Martin would “walk on hot coals for him.”
“He had remarkable people skills and I think that carried over to his success as a litigator and as a businessman,” Kennedy said.
Mr. Martin graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1948.
Over the years, he expanded his scope of practice to include product liability law.
Kennedy said Mr. Martin was a pioneer in product liability issues and helped to craft the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. He also testified before Congress on several occasions regarding product liability and GARA.
Beech Aircraft and Bill Koch were among Mr. Martin’s high-profile clients.
Kennedy said Mr. Martin had a heart attack about five years ago but continued to work for about two years after that.
“If Bob’s health had permitted, he would have been here the last day of his life,” Kennedy said.