MEMORIAL TRIBUTE: Mr. John Marvel, a proud member of the Greatest Generation and former President of Adams State University has died at 94.


With great sadness, we announce the passing of Mr. John Marvel, a proud member of the Greatest Generation an esteemed educator with Adams State University.  

Mr. Marvel was born March 13, 1922, in Forgan, Okla., in the heart of the dust bowl during the Great Depression. He served in the Army during World War II from 1943 to 1945. Soon after, he married Francis Smith. He completed his bachelor’s degree in business and education at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 1946.

From 1966-77, Marvel served as Adams State’s 28th president. In honor of his service to the university, he received the Adams State Foundation’s highest honor, the Willis Fassett Jr. Award, in 2009, and he was inducted into Adams State’s Educator’s Hall of Fame in 2015. 

Marvel started his career as a business teacher and coach at a high school in Hazelton, Kan. He went on to be an elementary school principal in Manhattan, Kan. With aid from the GI Bill, Marvel earned a master’s degree from the University of Denver in the early 1950s and a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 1956, with an emphasis in education. He then moved and served from 1955-66 in several capacities at the University of Wyoming, including principal of the Lab School, director of adult education and dean of the College of Education.

In 1977, after Marvel’s presidency at Adams State, he became president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Then he was president of the System of State Colleges and Universities Consortium in Colorado from 1977-82.

Marvel never truly retired, after 1982 he worked as a consultant nationally and internationally and was president of Hawaii Loa College. 

He will be remembered for his encouragement of cross-cultural exchanges and his belief that deeper education and growth occur with first-hand experience. Marvel believed these experiences lead to cooperation, tolerance, humility and an appreciation of the similarities among people, said his son, John.

“He was considered very much a role model by the people that he taught,” John Marvel said. “He lived a very loving and caring life, and he had a very successful professional life, I think, because he was a very humble and bright guy who was dedicated to education.” 

Marvel is survived by daughter Merrill Martin, sons John and Kim, six grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by wife Frances and a granddaughter, Kari Sammons. 

On behalf of The Greatest Generations Foundation and its members, we salute Mr. Marvel for his dedication and service to our nation. We will never forget you. 

Remember Those Who Served
The Greatest Generations Foundation