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Mickey Marvin, the Henderson County native who went on to achieve fame in college and pro football, died on Monday two years after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 61.
Friends recalled Marvin as a giant of a man with an even bigger heart — as kind off the field as he was ferocious in the trenches of the NFL. After earning All America honors at the University of Tennessee, he played for 10 years at right guard for the Oakland Raiders, winning two Super Bowls, yet never got above his raising. He always came home to family and friends in the North Carolina mountains.
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows honored Marvin last month with a tribute in the Congressional Record.
“Mickey Marvin is held in high esteem by the citizens in Henderson County and across Western North Carolina,” the tribute said. ‘Even in the midst of his struggle with ALS, Marvin continues to be a man of exemplary character, faith and kindness.”
A native and lifelong resident of Henderson County, Marvin was preceded in death by his father, Gordon J. Marvin, and grandmother Dalla Green. Surviving are his loving wife of 36 years, Lisa Conway Marvin; a son, Jonathan Michael Marvin of Hendersonville; a daughter, Paige Marvin Stines and husband Joshua of Seattle; mother and father, Inez and Stan Taylor of Etowah; and a brother, Linden Marvin of Hendersonville.
A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Hendersonville First Church of the Nazarene with the Revs. Sherman Waters, John Marra and Joshua Stines and Dr. Rick Power officiating. Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The family will receive friends from 4 until 7 p.m. Saturday at the church.
Richard Rhodes, sports director at WHKP, has known Marvin most of his life.
"Mickey was at West as a sophomore when I was an eighth grader,” he said. “I also knew him from Little League. They never had a uniform that fit him in Little League, even as a 13-year-old."
“We knew each other well once he got out of the Raiders,” Rhodes added. “When he was playing for the Raiders he would come sit in the (broadcast) booth with us and talk. When Jonathan played at West he didn’t miss a game of course.”
Retired from playing, Marvin remained with the Raiders as a scout and devoted his free time to witnessing his faith.
“I had Marvin come do a youth revival at one time, which was really where his heart was, and then at the radio station he did a Sunday morning show for years with Mrs. Gentry and then took it over when Mrs. Gentry could not do it anymore," Rhodes said.
About a year ago, Toby Jones, the mattress store owner, had an idea to raise money for scholarships in Marvin’s name.
“Toby had me in and asked what I thought of the idea,” Rhodes said. “I said the next person we should get involved is Don Jones. We started with the three of us.”
The first Mickey Marvin Scholarship Fund golf tournament last October raised $46,000. The second annual tournament will be next Oct. 2 at Hendersonville Country Club. The name will probably be changed to the Mickey Marvin Memorial Tournament, Rhodes said.
“Mickey, to my knowledge, if there was anything possible he could do for somebody and they had a need he would meet that need,” Rhodes said. “He was just an outstanding person. To accomplish what he did and to totally display the fruits of the spirit was absolutely amazing.”
One afternoon, “out of the blue,” Rhodes got a call. “This is Mickey,” his friend said. “I’m in the middle of Oklahoma and I’m in a terrible storm and I need you to pray for me. You never knew when he was going to call."
Rhodes plans a show he’s calling Memories of Mickey from 9 to 10 a.m. Friday on WHKP featuring coaches and friends of Marvin.
The Rev. Greg Mathis, senior minister of Mud Creek Baptist Church, first got to know Marvin when he moved to Hendersonville in the mid 1980s, when the NFL star was still playing.
“Mickey and I had been friends for years and after he got his diagnosis he came out and sat down and talked to me,” Mathis said. “It was my idea to bring it up to him to give his testimony to the church and tell how God has put him on the football field to honor and glorify him and God had also allowed him to have ALS, to give him a stage where he could also honor and glorify God.
“He lived his faith, he kept his eyes on Jesus,” Mathis said. “He was just wonderful.”
No matter how difficult life became physically, especially for an athlete who had reached the pinnacle of his sport, Marvin displayed a good attitude.
“I was just amazed at how much courage he showed in the face of what was obviously a very serious thing,” Mathis said. “I was amazed at how his faith never wavered and it just became very clear how much he loved his family and friends. One thing I always appreciated about Mickey is that he never forgot Henderson County. One He never forgot his home. … His heart was as big as his body,” he said. “He was just a fine Christian gentleman.”