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.