YOU WOULD have done well to invite Earl Martin to your party.

Earl was the life of every party, according to his family - famed for his quick wit and outgoing personality.

"He didn't go around with a lampshade on his head," said his nephew, Gene Herman. "But he had an engaging personality and an over-the-top sense of humor."

Earl W. Martin, a government lawyer for about 40 years, a World War II combat medic, a devoted family man and loyal friend always ready to go out of his way to help someone in need, died Dec. 20. He lived in Livermore, Calif., and formerly lived in Annapolis, Md., and Philadelphia.

Like many World War II combat veterans, Earl didn't talk much about his war experiences, but one event stood out: He briefly met his brother Joseph, a member of another Army unit, while both were on combat duty in Germany.

Earl retired in 1989 after four decades as a lawyer for the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Customs in Washington, D.C.

He was born to Helena and Michael Martin in Frankford. He graduated from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in 1938, and enrolled at Saint Joseph's University.

His college education was interrupted when he entered the Army in 1942. He was assigned to a medical unit and served in the European theater.

After the war, Earl returned to St. Joe's and received his bachelor's degree. He worked as a salesman for the former Quaker Rubber Co. in Philadelphia for several years before enrolling at Georgetown University, where he received his law degree.

He immediately went to work for the government.

Family and friends gravitated to Earl because of his generous nature and his willingness to help those who needed him.

"Uncle Earl assumed the role of patriarch of the Martin family," Herman said. "He willingly offered guidance and support to his many brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces.

"He was a generous man and he had the unique ability to light up a room because of his personality. Moreover, he often was able to find a silver lining in the most trying circumstances."

Earl was a high-diver and swimmer in his school days, and in his later years, if there was a high-diving board at a pool, he would be up there to demonstrate his skill.

His major enjoyment was being with his family at his summer home in Bethany Beach, Del., and at his late sister Ann's home in Villas, N.J.

He married Bernice Uhlman in 1956. Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Bernadette Martin; a sister, Regina Herman, and two step-grandchildren, Lauren and Brandon Ruggles.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Dagsboro, Del.

Donations in his name may be made to St. Joseph's Preparatory School, 1733 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia 19130, or to Saint Joseph's University, 5600 City Ave., Philadelphia 19131.