All give, no take—the example of Tony Marin  

It’s mid-semester, the campus is bustling, and still there have been moments in past weeks when Mayflower Hill has felt oddly empty. The loss of Tony Marin will do that.

Tony, the smiling, chuckling, always-waving, pot-clanging (at hockey games) plumber for Physical Plant, died Sept. 11. He was 50 and had been ill for some time. His service filled Lorimer Chapel to bursting with people from all of parts of his very large life.

At Colby, Tony’s loss means he won’t be cheering goals at Alfond Arena. He won’t be the ice-breaker at staff gatherings here, getting President Bro Adams’s Q&A session started with an unexpected Q. “What’s the nature of that book you’re taking time off to write?” or, tongue in cheek, “How’s that flush working up to the house?” He won’t be in the audience at every important event where faculty and staff are invited, listening closely to the lecture or speech and offering pithy commentary via his folksy delivery.

Tony had nearly daily 6 a.m. conversations with Adams, pulling the truck over as the president walked from his house to Eustis. He had morning chats with basketball coach Dick Whitmore and hockey coach Jim Tortorella when they were here. He had regular chats with many, many people, including me.

One time I mentioned that I was building a stone wall at home. “You want antique rocks?” he asked, with that cryptic Tony smile. He said he had some on his land in Clinton; I should check them out. So I did, with my wife, Mary (Foley) ’78. We arrived at the back field in check-out apparel: sneakers and shorts. Tony looked us over skeptically and said, “You ain’t exactly dressed for it, but let’s get to work.”

In Tony’s get-it-done world, checking out the rocks involved loading fieldstone into the bucket on Tony’s tractor. He dumped them in the back of his old pickup and, when the truck was full, springs sagging, handed Mary the keys. “You take that load home,” he told us. “I’ll start rounding up some more.”

Over several hours we loaded and dumped, loaded and dumped, sweating and talking. Much of the conversation had to do with projects he was doing—for someone else. Plumbing. Carpentry. Hauling. When we asked what we could pay him for the rocks, he said, “Whatever you think they’re worth.” We did, and I’m sure that money went into the next project, helping someone Tony thought could use a hand.

In these pages is a story about some intrepid and generous Colbians who gave back at Colby and have since made giving a big part of their lives (P. 22). Tony Marin didn’t work with the Colby Volunteer Center or Colby Cares About Kids. He just cared about everybody, and his generosity of spirit and deed embodied Colby’s sense of community, setting an example for students and colleagues alike.

His was a very tough act to follow, but follow it we should, and remember it we will.

Gerry Boyle

Gerry Boyle ’78, P’06
Managing Editor