William Frederick Marvel of Carmel, Indiana, passed away Friday night, January 15, 2021, at St. Vincent Hospice House in Indianapolis the day after his 96th birthday. Bill devoted the last 32 years of his career to the Indiana Farm Bureau members organization. The youngest of four sons, Bill was born January 14, 1925, in Middlebury, Indiana, to Audrey Thomas and Ella Gertrude (Hillman) Marvel.
Survivors include his second love and wife of eight years, Beverly J. (Wilson) (McMillan) Marvel; children, Susie Marvel (Dan McCarthy) and Debbie Wesley (Jon); grandchildren Kevin McCarthy (Bethany), Regan McCarthy, Christina Ralphs (Kevin), Christopher Wesley (Ashley), and Michael Wesley; and a great-granddaughter Alicia Wesley, two years old. Also surviving are his McMillan children Larry McMillan (Peggy), Cheryl Draper (Marty), and Diane Walsh; eleven McMillan grandchildren; and his Marvel and Jones nieces and nephews, all of whom loved him dearly.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 53 years, Martha Catherine (Jones) Marvel, and his brothers, Tom, Jim, and Howard.
Bill was a graduate of Burnettsville High School and Purdue University, where he received his degree in Horticulture. At Farm Bureau, Bill served as the Director of the Legislative Department, during which time he worked to get bills passed by the Indiana State Legislature that will benefit Indiana farmers for generations. Earlier he served in the Farm Bureau Education Department where he worked with youth groups, especially Rural Youth.
Bill started his career as a teacher in the Veterans On-the-Farm Training program for returning World War ll veterans, helping farmers learn methods that would preserve soil health and increase their yields. He then moved to the Purdue Extension Service, where he was Assistant County Agent in Tippecanoe County, working closely with the 4-H program.
A veteran of the United States Army during World War II, Bill served at Bruns General Hospital located near Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the bacteriology lab, attaining the rank of corporal. He was selected to be a member of his base basketball team and traveled throughout the southwest competing against teams at other bases. He was a long-time member of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, serving as chairman two years and receiving the first Paul Samuelson Award. He was a member of the Purdue Ag Alumni Board of Directors, served as chairman of the Hamilton County Extension Board, president of the Carmel Lions Club, and was appointed by the governor to the Indiana Welfare Study Commission, the State Health Planning Committee, the State Tax Study Group, served on the State Reassessment Study Group, and was president of the Hoosier Farm Bureau Credit Union. In recognition of his many contributions, Bill was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by the Governor of the State of Indiana in 2002.
As a youth, Bill was very industrious, riding his bicycle more than 20 miles each day delivering the newspaper. He baled hay, raised vegetables for sale, raised and processed broilers, ran a custom spraying business, and after graduating from Purdue, managed an apple orchard. He was active in 4-H and FFA, winning many state and even national awards.
Bill was a member of the Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis. He enjoyed gardening, golf, playing bridge, and was an excellent ping-pong player. Known for his pork chops cooked on the grill and “midnight hamburgers” cooked over a campfire, his family fondly remembers the special shapes he made for them while cooking pancakes on the griddle and the special song he sang while frying the best bacon ever. He enjoyed camping with his family and friends throughout Indiana and the country, visiting all 50 states, where he took particular interest in touring the state capitol buildings. One of his pleasures in life was driving. He said he believes he drove more than two million miles in his lifetime, as his work included speaking at many, many meetings throughout Indiana. Bill was a fervent Boilermaker, following the Purdue football and basketball teams, and a long-time fan of the Indiana Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts. He lived for 26 years with his wife Cathie in Brown County, enjoying the trees and birds and a pond full of fish. While there on Cordry Lake, he served as Chairman of the Water Commission and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Conservancy District.
When Bill retired, he was presented with a Certificate of Distinction by the Purdue Ag Alumni Association, and he was honored on the floor of the Indiana State Legislature with their passing of a Special Resolution.
At age 85, Bill began writing a book about his lifetime of experiences, his 288-page memoirs filled with photos, a true treasure for future generations. Recently published, The Life and Times of William Frederick Marvel, is available at blurb.com.
Due to the family’s concern for the safety of the many friends and family members who loved Bill, there will be no visitation. His funeral service will be held on Wednesday, January 20, at 1:30 in Colonial Hills Baptist Church. It will be private, because of COVID-19.
Burial will follow the next day, Thursday, January 21 at 1:30 in the Jones Family plot at Riverside Cemetery, Attica, Indiana.
A Celebration of Life will be held sometime in the future after the world is made right. Memorial contributions can be made to Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis.
Bussell Family Funerals is assisting the family with arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William F. Marvel, please visit our floral store.
Colonial Hills Baptist Church
8140 Union Chapel Road, Indianapolis IN 46240