Martin S. Fox died April 8 of complications of a Covid-19 infection. He was 95.

Martin was born in Newark, N.J, the eldest of four sons of Jacob and Mae Bonda Fox. He attended Weequahic High School and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his JD from Harvard Law School. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, working as a meteorologist. He later joined his father’s law firm in Newark, which became Fox and Fox. He happily retired at age 66 so that he could spend more time fishing.

He was a passionate supporter of civil rights and social justice. He served as vice president of the Essex County Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action and ran as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1952 and 1954. Though he narrowly lost both times, recognition of his ideas and positions led to his appointment to the New Jersey State Board of Education in 1960 by Gov. Richard J Hughes and in 1970 by Gov. William Cahill.

In the summer of 1963, Martin traveled to St. Augustine, Fla., to provide pro bono legal services for civil rights activists led by Dr. Robert B. Hayling, a local dentist in whose office Martin slept while he helped peaceful resisters, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., get out of jail. Some of the worst brutality against defenders of civil rights occurred in St. Augustine, and the trip was considered so dangerous that his family in New Jersey did not know where he was sent. His strong political and civil rights commitments never faded.

He was an active member of the Jewish community, serving as president of the Jewish Community of Metropolitan New Jersey from 1972-1974. He continued to play a role in its charitable work until he became ill this month. In 1979, he was elected president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He served as a United Jewish Appeal campaign chairman and was also a board member of the Council of Jewish Federations, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society as well as the New Jersey Historical Society. When Gov. Brendan Byrne and his wife Jean were invited to visit Israel in 1978 as guests of the Israeli government, Muriel and Martin Fox accompanied them.

In his spare time, Martin enjoyed fishing, first as a boy, in Belmar, N.J., and later in life on Martha’s Vineyard. He won first place for shore-caught false albacore in the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby in 1991, and earned second place twice for shore-caught bonito. He also loved playing poker. He claimed that he played the game at least once a week beginning in his days in the military; his family can attest to weekly games going back to the 1960s and twice a week in recent years.

Martin is survived by his loving family: his wife of almost 70 years, Muriel Kaplan Fox; his daughters Sarah Fox and Rachel Fox; and three granddaughters. His three younger brothers, Dr. Arthur C. Fox, Richard Fox and David Fox, predeceased him.