Marvin Lee McClanahan was born July 7, 1947 in Kirksville, Missouri. He passed away peacefully at Missouri Veterans Home – Mexico, on May 25, 2020 cradled in the arms of his loving wife and virtually surrounded by his two sons and a host of family and friends who were in constant contact by virtual means.
On March 10, 1973 he was united in marriage with Rebecca Ann Payne, who survives. Marvin is survived by their two sons, Andrew Lee and wife Astrid of Texas; and Bryan Anthony and wife Marina Cramer of Connecticut. Also surviving are three grandchildren, Amélie Julieta McClanahan, Leo Frederick Cramer-McClanahan and Tycho Alexander Cramer-McClanahan. He is survived by his sister, Joyce Marie McClanahan of Kirksville.
He is also survived by brothers-in-law John Payne (Shemba) and James Payne (Sharal) and sisters-in-law Mary Jane Suppasansathorn (Nop) and Mariann McCorkle Salisbury; nieces Melanie Meyers (Chris) and children Zion, Lincoln, Uma, Forest and Quentin; Angela Scalise (Dom) and children Luca, Marietta and Cora; Olivia Monahan (Liam) and Jessica Payne; nephews Jared Suppasansathorn, Justin Payne, Jeremy Payne and Zach Payne (Caitlin Fitzpatrick); and beloved cousins Cheryl Cozette, Gary McClanahan, Judy Bulson and Steve Townsend. He leaves behind a host of family, friends, and fans.
Preceding him in death are his parents, Orie B. and Betty (Bauer) McClanahan, and cousin Jerry Bauer, also a radio man inspired by Marvin.
Marvin was drafted into the United States Army on June 19, 1968 and then deployed to Vietnam on December 8, 1968 through January 22, 1970. He completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and then completed 10 weeks of Advanced Infantry Training as a Medical Corpsman at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Marvin was a medic and ambulance driver with the 91st Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade, 584th Ambulance Company attached to U.S. Army Headquarters at Long Binh with short stints at Bien Hoa Air Base. Marvin achieved the rank of Specialist 5, and upon discharge he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
After returning from his military service, Marvin graduated from college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Truman State University. He returned to his previous work at KLTI radio station in Macon. In 1972, he realized his childhood dream of working for KIRX and was always grateful to Sam Burk for the opportunity. Eventually, his morning “drive time” show, embellished by his sidekicks “Chippy” and “The Old Man, “ became very popular and earned enviable ratings for his listenership. He was at his best in the days when he chose every song and recorded every ad as he sat between two turntables and lowered the needle on each record, all guided by his innate sense of timing. In 1985, the Country Music Association named Marvin its Broadcast Personality of the Year for Small Market. He travelled to Nashville to attend the CMA Award Ceremony broadcast on CBS and had the chance to meet many of the stars of country music whose music he played. The City of Kirksville proclaimed “Marvin McClanahan Day,” and he served as grand marshal for parades. Truman State University featured his story in their publications. National trade magazines like “Billboard Magazine” and “R&R Records” did feature articles highlighting his career. In 2005, Marvin won Editorial of the Year from the Missouri Broadcasters Association for an opinion piece he wrote and produced. The last several years of his radio career were in partnership with Helen Adams on KTUF where “Marvin and Helen” entertained and informed their listeners. Throughout his career, he loved being on the air and never lost the sense of joy and wonder in his work.
Marvin was a gifted vocalist and could play a tune on virtually every kind of instrument he touched (including a touch tone phone). He was playing hymns at the piano at the age of seven for he and his four-year-old sister, Joyce, to play church while singing duets in harmony. He resisted his mother’s attempts to give him proper piano lessons as he preferred his free-wheeling style playing by ear, a style he maintained throughout his life bringing much joy to himself and others. As a young teenager he learned to sing harmony by adding the second part and then the third part, the fourth part, and so on. He was in demand as a soloist for weddings and funerals from the age of 14 and sang bass in choir and a southern gospel style quartet during high school and then progressed to church choirs, leading congregational singing and to the Kirksville Community Chorus. His choir directors always appreciated him as a model choir member: his vocal range and ability as a soloist and in the bass section, his promptness, and his commitment. He could always hit the lowest notes written into the music. His first duet with his wife, Rebecca, was at their wedding and they continued to sing together as a duet and with Joyce as “The McClanahan Trio.” Marvin’s distinctive speaking voice was perfect for radio and was recognized by his listeners even though they had never met him. Marvin was inspired by Cousin and radio announcer, Jerry Minshall, and in turn he became a role model and inspired many others to pursue successful radio careers, including cousin Woodrow (Woody) Adkins who visited Marvin regularly throughout his last few months of life.
Marvin was a humble and kind man with a generous spirit. He was a good father & grandfather to his two sons, his grandchildren and to several foster children over the years, helping with winning Pinewood Derby cars (with just the right amount of graphite), successful poetry projects, family bike rides, long road trips and cutting the annual live Christmas tree. He was quick to help others and often worked behind-the-scenes in a supportive role and was his wife’s most faithful supporter when she was elected to legislative office. He had a quirky sense of humor with a special affinity for small children and anyone else that would laugh at his funny noises and silly antics. He served his country valiantly in Vietnam and as a result, he was exposed to Agent Orange, which is presumed to be the cause of his prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and the associated dementia. He lived with grace despite the limitations of chronic illness. Recent caregivers talked often of how “classy” he was and described him as an elegant man.
He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Kirksville. He was recently baptized although an avid churchman his entire life.
No public memorial events are planned at this time due to the global COVID pandemic. He will be interred at Jacksonville Veterans Cemetery at a later date. Please honor his memory with a contribution to the Marvin L. McClanahan Communications Scholarship at Truman State University. Contributions may be submitted at www.truman.edu/mcclanahan-scholarship/ or delivered or mailed to Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home, 2100 E. Shepherd Ave, Kirksville, MO 63501.
Arrangements in the care of Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home of Kirksville, MO.