Martha Jane Patton

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Martha Jane Patton (born c. 1946 in Decatur, Morgan County, died July 29, 2020 in Birmingham) was an attorney and executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham.

Patton was the daughter of Samuel and Martha Lewis Hines Patton. She was raised in Decatur and was the editor of the Decatur High School newspaper, where she wrote and published editorials critical of segregation. She moved to Birmingham from Decatur in 1964 to attend Birmingham-Southern College on a scholarship she won through the National Council of Teachers of English. She graduated in 1968 and moved to Tuscaloosa in 1971 as a coordinator for the Selma Inter-Religious Project. From there she helped form a chapter of the Women’s Political Caucus.

Patton was encouraged to pursue a law degree by Marjorie Fine Knowles, the first female professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and Annette Dodd of the Cumberland School of Law, where she graduated in 1978. She became an associate at Hodges & Shults, then opened her own office in 1981. In 1989 she was hired as an associate at Vowell & Meelheim, then left to become a sole practitioner again in 1994. She was named executive director of the Legal Aid Society in 1998.

She was a member of St Andrew's Episcopal Church and chaired their building committee, and was the founder and first president of the Friends of Avondale Park. She served on the board of Birmingham Episcopal Campus Ministries. She was married to Lynn Daniel and had two sons, Jonathan and Will.

In 2003 Patton was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy. She retired from the Legal Aid Society in 2016. She died of complications from cancer in July 2020.