Marion Robert "Bob" Marsh, 88, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died Friday, July 29, 2011, at the Dennis & Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy, Hiawatha, Iowa. Bob as born on Aug. 30, 1922, near Archer, Neb., at the homestead farm of his parents, Marion Frederick Marsh and Lilly Belle (Mesner) Marsh.
Bob was the first of five brothers, Don, Wayne, Glenn and Norman who, like their father, loved to tell stories and knew how to deliver the punch line to a good joke. He attended the Gardner Country School through 8th grade and graduated from Central City High School. He attended Nebraska Central College for a year where he played quarterback for the school team. He was raised a Methodist at the Fairview Methodist Church northwest of Central City.
After World War II broke out, Bob tried to enlist with the Air Force, but the medical examiner said he had a heart murmur that disqualified him. Ironically, the murmur was never diagnosed again. His love of flying never abated, often doodling with pictures of bi-planes and stopping to listen to the drone of a Cessna flying overhead.
At age 23, Bob married Aletha Yvonne Nitzel, 19, on April 7, 1946, at the house of her parents, Lloyd and Lillian Nitzel. They started farming near St. Libory, Neb., where Diane was born in 1947 and son, Richard in 1952.
In 1954, the family moved to a farm outside of Ravenna, Neb., where son, Thomas was born in 1956. Bob farmed and Yvonne taught piano to support the family. The farm ran dairy cows, chickens and eggs, field corn and sorghum. The boys spent their childhood days outside exploring and playing in the haymows of the two barns, around the lakes on the property and in the State Park that was next to the property. Bob supplemented family income working for Stan Roy Purina in Ravenna.
Bob moved the family to Grand Island in 1964 where he started full-time in ag sales with Nixon Feeds. He moved from Nixon to selling grain bins for BSB and later Chief Industries. He had found his calling. His friendly disposition and quick wit made him a natural and trusted salesman with many of the farmers and dealers he worked with for the next 30 years.
While in Ravenna and later in Grand Island, the children learned to play piano from Yvonne, but Bob was the one who instilled his love of music in all three. He was largely self-taught on guitar, banjo and (later) harmonica. As each of the children took on additional instruments, the family jam sessions were classic family times.
In 1970, Bob accepted the position of National Sales Manager with Chief Industries. The job required a family move to Rensselaer, Ind. A year later, Bob took a position as National Sales Manager with Modern Farm Systems in Webster City, Iowa. Bob's job with MFS took him across the nation and occasionally to South America. During these years, Yvonne continued with her piano students and also made sure that she and Bob began traveling abroad. They enjoyed trips to Ireland, mainland Europe, El Salvador and other places. They also enjoyed seeing each of their children graduate from college and enter into their careers as music teacher and lawyers.
In 1984, Bob and Yvonne moved to Littleton, Colo., where the two of them hoped to slow down and where Bob was closer to the mountains he had always loved. Tom, Rich and their families also lived in the Denver area and, as fate would have it, Bob and Yvonne were able to enjoy the births and childhood years of their four granddaughters. They attended nearly every milestone event, dance or piano recital, school program, athletic contest and the like. They also hosted major holidays at their home on Sheridan Court where Christmas was particularly special.
Bob continued to work part-time as a dealer rep, and brought with him many of the faithful friends and customers he had developed over the years. He finally retired at age 80 in 2003.
In 2006, health circumstances took Bob and Yvonne to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they lived in assisted living facilities until 2009. In that year, Diane and Al opened their home to Bob and Yvonne to provide the care they needed and the opportunity for the two of them to enjoy each other's presence and company. These years were both precious and hard for all concerned.
During this time that Bob was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia. This slow-moving disease finally began to accelerate in 2011, but not until after Bob had made many decisions to continue living and experiencing life with his wife. He was loved by his caretakers in Cedar Rapids, and many would continue to drop by for a visit long after their tour of service had ended.
Bob is survived by his wife, Yvonne; two brothers, Donald and Glenn; his three children and their spouses, Diane and Al, Richard and Kay, and Thomas and Denise; and his four granddaughters, Alexa (Marsh) Larson, Madelyn Marsh, Natalie Marsh and Ariana Marsh; Diane's stepdaughter and husband, Lori and Jim, and stepgrandchildren, Evan, Thomas and Jenna; and all of the many Mesner, Barnes, Reeves, Marsh and Nitzel relatives.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; and his brothers Wayne and Norman.
Burial was in the Burke Cemetery near Central City, NE.
Published in The Grand Island Independent on August 1, 2011