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GREENVILLE – The recent death of 88-year-old Marvin A. McCabe put a damper on the equine world in Darke County and elsewhere.
McCabe, who died Aug. 31, is missed already by those who knew him. However, he left a legacy they will never forget.
Son Marty said, “As early as I can remember we showed ponies and worked on the farm as a family. When I was 13, I started helping Dad paint houses which planted the seed in me to continue that on and start my own painting business. Dad always attended my wrestling meets in school even if it meant missing work.
After Dad retired from his security job at St. Elizabeth Hospital, he started working full-time in our business and, through that time, my wife and I and all our children enjoyed working with him very much!
Other great times with Dad were serving on Emmaus Walks, mission trips through EUM Church, and Youth for Christ, and Cornershack youth ministry. Another highlight was being able to be with him when he judged at the World Equestrian Horse Show in Lexington, Ky. Also, I enjoyed watching John Wayne western movies with Dad. My latest good memories with Dad are helping him go to appointments and then going out to eat to local favorites. Before we ate we always prayed and before I would leave, Dad would pray for his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren.”
Mitch, another son, had this to say, “Dad worked at Herman Spille’s Harness Shop on Ludy Road, part-time for 40 years, in the winter. He used to repair harnesses and especially saddles. I loved to go with Dad when I was on Christmas break from school and spend the day with him and Herman. It was so much fun to watch him use the skills that he had learned. It was just one of many of the skills that Dad had.
Spille’s sold Breyer Horses and I started a collection that I still have today. I could always count on getting a Breyer Horse at Christmas from Dad and Mom. Dad was always interested in what we were doing from childhood till now. He supported us kids in whatever activities we participated in. He worked the swing shift at Corning Glass. Dad would trade his work schedule just to go to my wrestling matches. He rarely missed one. He always stressed hard work and doing your best in whatever you do, ‘No substitute for hard work.’ I started doing leather craft again several years ago and Dad was my biggest source of encouragement. He always wanted to see what I was working on and smell the leather. My son, Lucas, and I were able to take Dad to a wholesale leather store just a couple weeks ago. He enjoyed it immensely, seeing the leather and all of the supplies that he used to use. Whenever I make something, I will think of Dad. That’s a bond that we will always have.”
Daughter Miriam McCabe Wells responded, “Dad had high expectations for his kids. We learned to work hard, whether it was on the farm – feeding the animals, baling hay or pulling weeds in the soybean fields or ‘working’ your pony for the next pony show. But we played hard, too. Dad played with us; jumping in the leaves, playing tackle football and snow sledding. Our favorite way to sled was with all of us lying down on our stomachs one on top of each other. Dad on the bottom, then oldest to youngest kid on top. Dad was very supportive of our activities. He attended piano recitals, high school orchestra concerts, baseball games, basketball games, wrestling matches, etc. Dad came to my college events and even my adult handbell choir concerts in Indianapolis. Dad attended activities of his grandkids and great grandkids, too.”
She went on, “Dad really enjoyed sending us greeting cards. He sent us birthday cards, anniversary cards, and Christmas cards. The Christmas cards always had a horse on the front! When I was a little girl, Dad gave us Valentine cards and always a toy that he had picked out! I remember one year when I got a Barbie doll little sister, Skipper. I already had that doll but I was super excited because then I had twins! Dad was appreciative. He told me that he loved me every time we were together or when we were talking on the phone. He would thank me for visiting him and told me how proud he was of me.”
Realtor Deb Rose commented, “I was blessed to be Marvin’s real estate agent. He had such a kind heart. He was always so appreciative for everything. The world is a better place for all the lives that he touched.”
“Marvin and his family are dear friends,” wrote Eric and Kristen Fee. “It was an honor to know him, and celebrate his life and his many accomplishments. However, the thing we loved best about Marvin was his heart for people. It was infectious! Our community and church were better places because of Marvin. He will be dearly missed but we see his legacy in the places he painted, the lives he touched, the wisdom he shared about ponies and the people he loved and shared Jesus with! Well done, Marvin!”
Craig Francis will never forget McCabe.
“Both of us worked at Corning Glass; he as a security guard and me on maintenance on second shift,” Francis said. “We talked to each other all of the time, and then Marvin quit and went to work for St. Elizabeth Hospital. In 1983, I got hit in a fork lift accident and I spent 90 days in the Miami Valley Hospital. And, when Marvin found out, he called me every day.”
The two men didn’t actually run around and such, but became good friends.
Later on, Marvin underwent surgery and was sent afterwards to the Brethren Retirement Community to heal.
Francis ran into Mary Smith, his late friend Keith Smith’s mother and a good friend of McCabe’s, at the Brethren Home and learned that McCabe was in there. So, Francis visited him.
“That’s when I had a long beard and hair,” Francis recalled. “When I went to him, he said he didn’t know me but, after he learned it was me, he knew. Marvin said, ‘I can’t believe you came to see me.'”
It was the same sentiment Francis felt when McCabe was kind to him when he himself was injured in that 1983 accident.
“Marvin was loved by everybody,” Francis said. “He was a good man.”
Stephen Henderson of Kentucky said he has known McCabe for 30 years, ever since he was recommended to Henderson for someone to talk to about selecting a pony for a grandchild.
“Right from the beginning, I knew he was knowledegable,” Henderson said. “Marvin was the kind of person who got me interested in ponies more than I thought he would. He taught me leadership. I owe a lot to him.”
He went on, “Marvin was president of the shetland pony organization and got me involved in that. I am on the board of directors. Marvin got a lot of shows started. I have never met a more honest person in my life. He was truthful. If you ask him questions, he never shrugged you off and had a lot of respect for people. We had a great relationship, I got a lot of great colts out of his stallions. I bought a lot of colts for my grandchildren. I am glad Marvin had a good day at the (Darke County) fair recently. He and John Rimmer were good with me.”
Melanie Rimmer, on behalf of her family, has this to say about their good friend:
“Marvin was instrumental in creating the Ohio Championship Show that was held at the Ohio State Fair for several years. In addition, Marvin was past president of the ASPC (American Shetland Pony Club), the Area II Shetland Pony and Miniature Horse Club and a national director of the ASPC.
Shortly after my husband, John, and I were married, we purchased a beautiful stallion that Marvin was showing, M.A.M.s Sky High. We won numerous national awards and championships with him. Sky High would then become our herd sire until his passing in 2010.”
Last October, Marvin and Marilyn came out to the farm for a visit. Marvin’s health had been failing and he was missing the sights, sounds and even the smell of a pony barn. John asked Marvin if he would like to get back in the show ring. Marvin immediately said ‘Yes!’ So, John challenged him if he (Marvin) worked hard and did what the doctors recommended, then he would get him back in the show ring. Marvin gave us his patented smile and thumbs up. Over the next 10 months, Marvin worked very hard to get back to showing. He would call regularly to give John updates on how he was doing after each doctor’s appointment. You heard the excitement in his voice that he was going to reach his goal.
“A week before the fair, Marvin called and stated he wanted to come out to the farm to practice. Now here is a man who has shown all his life. He did not need the practice. He just wanted to be close to the ponies.
“Finally, Monday of the Darke County Fair was upon us. It was show day. We had the pony ready for the class before Marvin arrived. The pony was braided in Marvin’s stable colors…green and white. Marvin was thrilled when he arrived to see the pony. Marvin’s two sons and a grandson helped Marvin enter the show ring. He showed the pony to perfection as he had done so many times before. After the judging was complete and the card turned it, it was announced that Marvin had won the class. When Marvin was handed his trophy and ribbon, he paused to look at them. And, then without hesitation, he kissed the blue ribbon. He completed his goal. The stallion that Marvin had just won with was a son of M.A.M.’s Sky High, the stallion we bought from Marvin over 20 years ago.
“Marvin, we will forever be grateful for your friendship. We will definitely miss you. Until we meet again!”
Marvin’s activities centered around his church, equines, work and family and friends.
His church work included 40 years at the EUM Church in Greenville and 30 years at the Fort Jefferson United Methodist Church before that. McCabe was also an active member of The Darke County Area Emmaus Community and he enjoyed being involved with the Men’s Ministry at EUM.
Ponies and horses were his passion and he showed and judged at equestrian events and, in 2010, was inducted into the National Equine Hall of Fame.The 1950 graduate of Greenville High School put on many show clinics around the United States and wrote the book on judging procedures.
He worked for 20 years at Corning Glass and 27 years at St. Elizabeth Medical Center as a security guard,not to mention the part-time work he did for 40 years at Spille’s.
And, last but not least, he loved family and friends and they loved him as indicated by some of these earlier comments.
I am a Darke County native living in the Ansonia area with my son. I have been in journalism 50+ years and enjoy what I do.
Contact Darke County Now Media Correspondent Linda Moody @ email@example.com or 937-337-1955.