Retired University of Idaho professor Boyd Martin, who helped draft the original United Nations charter, died of age-related causes on Thursday. He was 86.
He was founder of the Martin Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at Idaho, where he served as a political science professor and dean for 35 years before retiring in 1973.
He continued as director of the institute until 1990. Martin earned his undergraduate degree at Idaho and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford.
He helped draft the original United Nations charter in 1945. In a 1995 interview, Martin recalled how he was invited to participate at the age of 34.
“Harry Truman asked me. I was sitting at my desk one morning and my secretary said the president wants to speak to you. I thought she meant the president of the university,” Martin said.
“The voice at the other end of the line said, ‘This is Harry S. Truman speaking and I’m going to ask a favor of you and I don’t want you to turn me down.”’ In 1939, Martin was at Stanford, meeting with other scholars, when Hitler invaded Poland. He was the only one in the group who believed the conflict would escalate to world war.
It was that night that he and his late wife, Grace, made a decision to invest their savings of $800 for a fund that someday would establish a peace organization.
By 1979, the Martins had turned that money into $1 million and it provided the base for his institute in Moscow, dedicated Oct. 19, 1980.
“Wanting peace isn’t idealistic. You could say it’s idealistic in the sense that it’s the only way we can live short of violence,” he once said.