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Marvin Acheson: Quiet, caring, hard worker

Acheson (click for larger version)
June 23, 2010 - In a world that's too often dominated by the loud, the lazy and the selfish, Marvin Keith Acheson toiled for his family on a daily basis and lived a quiet, humble life that was an example to all who knew him.

"When he was born, I think they broke the mold," said Shirley Acheson, his lovely wife of 62 years.

Sadly, Marvin, a lifelong Oxford area resident and 1947 graduate of Oxford High School, passed away on Tuesday, June 15, 2010. He was 81 years old.

Throughout his life, Marvin, who was a member of Oxford United Methodist Church for 66 years, was the epitome of the non-judgmental Christian.

"He never said an unkind word, that I can remember, about anybody," said Shirley, who met her husband when they were both 6-year-olds attending first grade at Daniel Axford Elementary. "He always found good in everyone. He never held a grudge."

Shirley called Marvin her "stabilizer" or "equalizer."

"If I said something negative, he would find something positive," she recalled.

In age where everyone seems to be constantly talking, often just to hear their own voices, Marvin knew the value of both silence and deeds.

"He was always the quiet one," Shirley said. "He was a man of few words, but he made an impact."

Beginning with his days as a soda jerk at VanWagoner's Drug Store in downtown Oxford, Marvin was certainly no stranger to hard work.

For 40 years, he farmed and lived in Addison Township, where he also served on the planning commission for a number of years. Even though they owned about 180 acres, Shirley said they farmed about 400 acres.

The Acheson farm grew apples, peaches, pears, plums and strawberries along with raising cattle (both dairy and beef), hogs and chickens.

When he wasn't farming, Marvin worked as a technician for 30 years at the Ford Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo.

"He worked midnights (at Ford) and then he would farm in the daytime," Shirley said. "He worked 24/7 back when people didn't know what 24/7 was."

Amazingly between his life on the farm and work at Ford, Marvin found time to run his own business for 10 years. It was called Le-Mar Windows and Porch Enclosures.

The spirit of generosity that spilled over into every aspect of his life greatly influenced the way Marvin dealt with his customers.

Whenever he found people who couldn't afford new windows or doors, Marvin would tell them, "If you can give me a little money now and then, that's okay."

"He never, never pressed them," Shirley said. "He gave more away than most people would have. He was a giver, not a taker."

When he retired from Ford in 1986, Marvin brought his staunch work ethic and caring for others to Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery in Oxford, which is owned by his wife.

Taking over the cemetery's maintenance, Marvin absolutely loved mowing the lush lawn and keeping things in perfect condition for the families who had loved ones buried there.

"He figured all those people out there have relatives, so everything needed to be shipshape," Shirley said.

But maintaining the cemetery in his retirement and spending his winters in Jenson Beach, Florida wasn't enough for an active fella like Marvin.

So, he and his wife spent 10 years delivering RV units from Elkhart, Indiana to destinations all over the United States and Canada.

"We've been in every state in the union and in every province of Canada – over a million miles," Shirley said.

Although he worked very hard throughout his life, Marvin also knew how to enjoy himself, whether he was playing golf and euchre or taking the boat out for a spin.

For many, many years he was a member of the Thursday Men's Golf League that started at Bald Mountain in Orion and ended up at Oxford Hills Golf and Country Club.

"He just loved life and he loved people," Shirley said.

A caring father and husband, Marvin was a patient teacher.

"He taught the boys farming. He taught them to do it right," Shirley said. "Whatever he did, he felt if you're doing it, you do it right or don't do it at all."

"He was very patient teaching me how to drive with a John Deere tractor," she noted.

But Marvin's influence extended well-beyond his family.

Shirley said many friends and others have told her that Marvin was their "role model."

"He probably didn't know it, but he touched a lot of lives," she said.

Shirley said her son, Chris, described his dad as "a very, very rich man, but had no money."

In addition to Shirley, Marvin is survived by his children Keith (Jan) Acheson, Chris (Loretta) Acheson and Craig (Laura) Acheson.

He's also survived by nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Marvin is preceded in death by his mother and father Edith and Harvey Acheson; daughters Kathy and Carla; and brother Ken Acheson.

A funeral was held Saturday, June 19 at Oxford United Methodist Church. Pastor Doug McMunn officiated. Interment was at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Oxford United Methodist Church, Beaumont Hospice or the charity of your choice in his name.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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