The library and this page are dedicated to the life of Martin F. O’Rourke, a life long railroad buff and historian and longtime member and officer of the Washington, D.C. Chapter NRHS.
Martin Francis O’Rourke of Fairfax, Virginia was the son of Hugh Martin and Frances Ann Shugart O’Rourke of Westernport, Maryland. He was born in Keyser, West Virginia on October 1, 1935. After serving in the United States Air Force, he spent the majority of his career working in the Washington, D.C. area. He ended his career with Bell Atlantic Corporation and retired in 1994.
Martin joined the club in 1979 was a member and leader of our Chapter for over twenty-five years. He served as Secretary 1988 – 1997, Senior Vice President 1997 – 2001, and finally as President from 2001 – 2005. He also volunteered annually as a counselor at RailCamp. Martin spoke most fondly of his experiences with RailCamp. He truly enjoyed the challenges that the teens presented. Those who knew him, will remember how he would almost ‘light up’ when he was talking about certain things and RailCamp one of those topics. He had his hands full keeping teenagers in line, but always lived up to the challenge.
Martin was a talented electrician and a qualified mechanical officer for our 1923 Pullman car DOVER HARBOR which he spent many hours working on and accompanying on the trips that began in 1983.
Martin twice received the Bent Spike Award, our Chapter’s highest honor, for his dedication and service to our club. Martin was extremely good to the NRHS, private railcars, railroad history, and those who had contact with him. He fostered good will and caring. Through his work on the DOVER HARBOR, he kept railroad history in the limelight by making sure that all riders on that car experience the golden years of railroading.
Martin also enjoyed electronics and model railroading. His favorite railway was the Western Maryland, which he grew up watching.
As our Chapter Secretary, Martin was instrumental in beginning the Chapter’s collection of books, maps, timetables, periodicals, and other railway ephemera that was the genesis for the Chapter’s library. He worked with members and the public at large to secure donations and gifts and stored the materials in his home. Martin also bequeathed much of his personal book collection to the Chapter.
Martin passed away June 14, 2005 and was cremated and subsequently interred at the Columbarium, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Martin, you may be gone, but you are far from forgotten!