John Lewis (Butch) Marman IV
September 14, 1940 – October 5, 2021
John Lewis Marman IV, 81, proud husband, father, granddad, former College of the Desert Athletic Director and Board Trustee, coach, educator, mentor, community leader and fundraiser, passed away in Palm Desert, California on Oct. 5, 2021.
John was born on Sept. 14, 1940 to Vesta and John (Johnny) Marman. The family lived in Sidney Montana, where his grandfather, John T. Marman and Frank Reynolds opened the Reynolds Market in August of 1925. Known in his hometown as “Butch”, he played the clarinet in the band and was an accomplished Sidney High School athlete, lettering in football, basketball and track. John attended the University of Nebraska where, as a 6-foot’ 1” 190-pound sophomore he played half-back in what is arguably called the greatest game in Husker history, the 25-21 upset of Oklahoma in 1959 that ended the longest unbeaten streak in NCAA history-74 consecutive games.
In Nebraska, John met his beautiful wife Madonna and went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Arizona. John and Madonna then settled in San Bernardino where he taught and coached at Pacific High School. In 1969, the couple moved to Palm Desert where John coached 10 men’s and women’s teams before taking the head football coach position from 1982, taking the 0-10 Roadrunners to their first 1st Southern California Bowl conference title in 1986 against Golden West College, ending the season ranked 12th in the nation. In 1976 he was named as the school’s second-ever COD Athletic Director, and retired in 20002.
After retirement, Coach could not walk away. He decided he wanted to play tennis for COD, so he enrolled in a full academic load, and joined the team, winning 80% of his doubles matches and achieving a state ranking. Tennis Coach Guy Fritz remembers that during the conference tournament, Coach, then in his 60s, beat two college kids in back-to-back sets in 100-degree heat.
In 2006, Coach Marman was elected to the College of the Desert Board of Trustees, continuing his dedication to community service and education.
Coach led dozens of community organizations and committees over the years, including: President, College of the Desert Faculty Senate; Board Chair and President COD Alumni Association; President, Palms to Pines Rotary Club; Board of Directors and President’s Lifetime Circle member College of the Desert Foundation; Board of Directors Desert Special Olympics; Chair, College of the Desert Board of Trustees; Chair, Riverside County Fair Board; Chair, Palm Desert United Way Fund Drive; Board of Directors, Palm Desert Historical Society, Co-Chair with wife Madonna, Mini-Muster Fire Safety Education Program.
Coach was also instrumental in bringing national attention to College of the Desert by inviting events such as the “NFL’s Fastest Man Competition”, “Star Games” and the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers training camps to the campus for 12 years during the 1980s’90s. He even slipped keys to the gym to Shaquille O’Neal so he could practice alone in the middle of the night while he was in town.
Coach was particularly proud to Chair the Palm Desert Parks and Recreation Commission during construction of the Civic Center Park, Recreation Center and Sports Complex. During this time, he championed a pedestrian bridge across the east side drainage culvert so students from nearby schools and neighborhoods were not forced to walk for miles on busy streets to reach the park. The City of Palm Desert recently named the bridge in his honor. A video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdsuE5sT4sA
Coach Marman believed in the value of a College of the Desert education. All three of his children attended the College before going on to earn degrees at four-year universities in California. Coach’s wife Madonna completed her R.N. degree at College of the Desert.
John and Madonna loved traveling, playing tennis and hiking. They took hours of dance classes together, tore up the dance floor at Pappy and Harriet’s, and tangoed their way through Brazil and Argentina. John was famous for his chili, his love for Willie Nelson and Tom Brady and his grand dog Stewy.
John is preceded in death by Madonna Marman, his wife of 57 years. He is survived by their three children; daughters Sue (Suzi) Hanks (John); Danielle Scardino (John); son John Marman; and his pride and joy, 9-year-old grandson John Knox Marman, who by all indications has inherited his granddad’s athletic prowess, and will be a basketball and football super stud!
Coach is also survived by his sister Anne Armstrong, of Sidney Montana, as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was also preceded in death by his parents, John and Vesta Marman, brothers Theodore (Teddy) Marman, Kent Marman, and sister Victoria. Uncle, Keith Means; aunt, Pet Haffner; and aunt and uncle Evelyn and Fay Corkran.
The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of a tribute gift to support the McCallum Theatre Education Department at https://www.mccallumtheatre.com/index.php/giving/tribute-gift-donation or to the College of the Desert Foundation at https://codfoundation.org/donate/fund-for-student-success/
A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 from 5-7 p.m. at the Classic Club located at 75-200 Classic Club Blvd. in Palm Desert.