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John Morris Marr

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John Morris Marr Obituary
John Morris Marr

John Morris Marr, 90, of Tallahassee, died on Monday, August 6, 2012.

John was more than just a member of America's Greatest Generation; he lived a Norman Rockwell, all-American life. He grew up and learned the work ethic on his family's thousand acre farm in Indiana, where the days began long before the sun rose, feeding work animals and lubricating equipment. At eighteen he drove his Indian motorcycle to Perdue University where he studied mechanical engineering for three years until joining the U. S. Army Air Corp. officer/pilot training program. John was more prepared than most for his military enlistment, having studied his last two high school years at Kentucky Military Institute.

John's fighter pilot training took him for a stint to Thomasville, from whence he would venture down to the target rich environment of Tallahassee, where he met his wife to be, Norma Lois Chandler, the daughter of Tallahassee's motel pioneer, Gilbert Chandler. In the mean time, it was on to the final pilot training base in Texas, where he harnessed up a P-51 Mustang, the most lethal fighter aircraft in the world.

Then it was off to Great Britain, where the Mustang earned its nickname "Little Friend" as the only long range bomber escort that could protect the deep penetration bombers all the way to enemy targets and back, pounding the Luftwaffe fighters and wreaking destructive havoc on ground targets along the way.

After the war, John returned to Tallahassee where he married Norma. He joined her family business and rented cottage rooms in the inns on the shore of Lake Ella. He, too, became a pioneer in the motel business and constructed the first modern-day design motel where all the rooms shared one common roof and the guests went into an office to register. The University Motel, downtown on West Tennessee Street, carried the coveted franchise affiliation with Quality Courts. John even dabbled from time to time as a quality inspector for would be new franchisees. The University Motel was a landmark in Tallahassee for two decades.

But by far John's main avocational interest was flying. John developed a top flight pedigree as a general aviation pilot, with commercial, instructor, instrument, and instrument instructor ratings. It may have been somewhat of a hobby, but it put him in the air as often as he desired, flying charter, and teaching many people to fly. It wasn't unusual for the family to leave the station wagon at home for vacations and instead load up the Cessna Centurion.

In retirement, John intensified his charitable endeavors, including refurbishing the Christian Church Campus House at FSU campus, and his commercial real estate investment activities. Some may recall the much celebrated American flag street in Tallahassee, Brookwood Drive, where John inspired his neighbors to fly the flag in front of their home after the 9/11 tragedy.

A Rotarian for nearly sixty years, deeply involved in politics, Chairman of the Board of the First Christian Church, a family man, a business man, a decorated war hero, John epitomized what it is to a live the American dream and make the sacrifice to enable future generations to have the opportunity to live that dream as will. He will be missed.

John passed away peacefully at home. He was a native of Columbus, Indiana. He is preceded in death by his wife, Norma, and a brother, Henry. He is survived by a sister, Cynthia, a brother, Clyde, Jr., sons, Jeff (Tallahassee) and Greg (Tallahassee), a daughter, Donah (and Ronald) Hamlin (Tallahassee), six grandchildren, and thirteen great grandchildren.

The family invites friends to Cully's on Riggins Road, Friday evening from six to eight. The service will be at 2:00 Saturday at the First Christian Church at 1319 High Road, followed by a brief reception at the church and then burial at Roselawn Cemetery on Piedmont Drive.



Published in Tallahassee Democrat from Aug. 8 to Aug. 10, 2012
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