Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bill ...

If it was Monday morning and you wanted to track Bill Marner down, you'd find him at the Ministry Center food pantry. On the second Tuesday of every month, he'd be attending a Lucas County Historical Society board meeting --- for many years as president, then as board member --- and on countless other occasions as volunteer, builder, repairer, strategist, grant writer, even tree-trimmer.

Although he hadn't been feeling well, he and Carol made it to the society's annual meeting in April as they did to every other museum event unless they were traveling.

And this barely scratches the surface of the degree to which this good man had been involved in a community the family had called home since the fall of 1964.

If there was a good cause in Chariton, chances are he had been there working for it. It would be hard to find anyone in Chariton, or native to Chariton, who has not been affected in a positive way directly or indirectly by Bill as coach, educator, guidance counselor, city council member, mayor and consummate volunteer. Lucas County Tourism, for example. The Chariton Valley Regional Housing Trust Fund for another. The Lucas County Arts Council. And much more.

Our friend died early Sunday at Legacy Lodge hospice, a couple of days after coming home from a Des Moines hospital when his battle against a harsh and aggressive form of non-hodgkins lymphoma ended. I'm not quite sure what we'll do without him.


Bill used to come into the museum office sometimes when I was working there and he'd sit down and we'd talk for a while about this and that.

So I know that he was a Johnson County native and that his great-grandparents were Old Order Amish. His grandfather had removed his family to a more "worldly" church so that his children could receive advanced educations and have more opportunities.

His dad was the farmer among brothers, however, so in addition to Carol and their children and grandchildren, Bill loved his old tractor (with scoop), his old truck and a piece of Lucas County land that he'd bought years ago in partnership with a friend who died too young.

We never talked religion --- beyond a shared interest in Anabaptist roots. Bill never needed to speak out about what he may have believed, or not, because his life spoke.

Some people seem to have been born to build up, others to tear down. Bill was a builder.


Steve Carman said...

When I came to Chariton as a first year teacher and coach I had to coach junior high wrestling to get the job. Having never wrestled, I was told to get with Head Coach Bill Marner and he would teach me what I needed to know. Little did I know that wrestling was by far the least important thing that Bill taught me over the years. How to be a husband, father, educator, community member, Christian, friend, and man were all covered over the years. He did not have to sit you down and explain everything in detail, you could gain it in just listening to his conversations and how he lived his life. I was blessed to have so many friends and mentors in Chariton and Bill was right up there leading the way. He will be missed, but at the same time some of Bill is being lived out in the lives of so many people. Bill may no longer be walking the streets of Chariton but his presence and influence is still there.

Anonymous said...

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting and working with Bill Marner and Dick Threlkeld on the freight house renovation. Towards the end of a long, hot, and dirty day I was beginning to question my much younger self’s ability to keep up with these two guys on a daily basis. Later when I was telling one of my co-workers, a Chariton native, about working with Bill and Dick he said “you had the pleasure of spending time with two of the best people you are ever going to meet”.
Steve Bright

Karen Halfpop said...

I've known Bill Marner very nearly my entire life. I was 2 when my family moved to Chariton, just down the street from Bill & Carol, so they were among the first friends in our new town. I grew up playing with, and going to school and Sunday school with Beth and Dan. In fact, Bill was my Sunday school teacher a couple of years. That's a lot of years ago! Chariton will sorely miss "Mr. Marner." I know I will.

Jenni Pickel said...

When I came to Chariton High School as a first year teacher in 1979, my classroom was down the hall from Bill's office. I observed that he had an amazing connection with the students. There was mutual respect and love. I had many sage teachers at CHS who mentored me, but I picked up this key tidbit from Bill: Students will respect you if you respect them first... genuinely care. My career has taken me from Chariton to the St. Louis suburbs and the city of Sheboygan. His advice has served me well, and I practice this will everyone I meet. I loved Bill because he was a gentle, humble man whose actions spoke volumes.