John “Paul” Martha
Age 80 of Pittsburgh passed away peacefully February 4, 2023. Beloved son of the late Albert J. Martha and Dorothy (Hooper) Martha. He was a loving father to J.P. Martha (Tiffany) of Butler, Pa, Chris Martha (Jennifer) of Decatur, Ga., Rich Martha (Sandie) of San Diego Ca.; cherished grandfather to Jack, Logan, McKenney, Brody, Riley, Tyler Grace, Kegan, Kaili; dear brother of David Martha (Jane), Naples, Fl, Lynda Burkel Naples, Fla, and the late Albert Martha Jr. and Richard Martha and memorable uncle to many nieces and nephews.
Paul’s accomplishments throughout his life are legendary. Hailing from Wilkinsburg, Paul attended Shady Side Academy on an athletic scholarship where he played football, basketball, and baseball. Upon graduating high school, he chose to continue his football career at the University of Pittsburgh. This decision proved to be a good one as he finished his college football career as an All-American half-back.
In 1964, the Pittsburgh Steelers took notice of this burgeoning hometown hero and chose him as a first-round draft pick (10th overall). His career with the Steelers was not the only thing keeping him busy. Simultaneously, while playing professional football with the Steelers, Paul acquired his law degree from Duquesne University Law School. Practicing law however was put on hold as he finished his professional football career in 1970 after playing one year for the Denver Broncos.
Paul returned to Pittsburgh to practice law with Reed, Smith, Shaw and McLay. The chosen career path of law, post professional athlete, was a judicious decision as it led him to become General Counsel for the DeBartolo Corp. that was based out of Youngstown, Ohio at the time. His career path with the DeBartolo’s led him to hold executive positions with the San Francisco 49ers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the USFL Pittsburgh Maulers and the MISL Pittsburgh Spirit, in addition to overseeing operations at the Civic Arena. One of the most notable accomplishments in his career was helping to settle the 1982 NFL football strike. Paul was brought in to be an arbitrator to mediate grievances between players and owners. In addition to this achievement, Paul was CEO and General Counsel with the Pittsburgh Penguins during their 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup wins, as well as the San Francisco 49ers 1982, 1985 and 1989 Super Bowl victories.
Aside from all his astounding success within the professional sports world, what is voiced first and foremost by most everyone who knew him, was his kindness. People who worked with Paul, over his undeniably impressive career all commented on how personable and kind he was and his lack of ego or arrogance. Paul was a man who was a real presence when he was in a room. A presence of a man who never forgot where he came from, never forgot the hard work it took to succeed and never forgot that there is always a little luck involved along the way. Paul never forgot that with your own success, it is your responsibility to help others to succeed as well.
In Paul's most recent years he had been fortunate to have the devoted and unwavering support of his friend and full-time caregiver Kelly Potter. Paul was able to enjoy his family and many other activities because of this wonderful care he received for 15 years. Weekly lunches to his favorite diners, around Mars, Pa with his son JP, were the highlight of his week according to Kelly. Being able to come watch football games on TV with his grandkids was another loved activity, all while sneaking food to all the dogs that gathered around him on those Sundays. Paul will be missed by so many. There aren’t many things in this world that are better to remember than Paul Martha when asked, “How ya doin Paul” and hearing him reply “Good, Good, Good” with that huge genuine smile. He will have a very special place in the hearts of all his family members and those who were blessed to know him.
The family will be holding a gathering & funeral mass which will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers the family respectfully suggests memorial contributions to Adventures in Training with a Purpose (ATP) located in Wexford, PA: 7000 Stonewood Drive, Suite 115A, Wexford PA 15090.
Arrangements by Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, Aspinwall.
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Adventures in Training with a Purpose (ATP)
7000 Stonewood Drive, Suite 115A, Wexford PA 15090