On Monday, April 4, enough roses for all the women in the office crowded Marlin Wallace’s desk along with thank you cards, an arragement he made before his passing on Saturday, April 2. Wallace passed away at 57, ending his battle with cancer.
Director of Human Resources David Pickering said this act of kindness shows how much he cared.
“He cared for his students, he cared for his employees, he cared for his wife, and he cared for his children,” Pickering said. “He was outstanding.”
“He just was an incredibly kind person and had a lot of compassion on my family. Whenever we couldn’t make a [school bill] payment on time, he didn’t make me feel poor or anything. He was just really merciful and kind,” said senior Mandy Haffer.
Greg Bruner, Director of Financial Aid was a close friend of Wallace— especially since their jobs were so connected.
The two of them would “huddle” to see how they could make a way to help students find ways to pay for school. Wallace looked at whatever he could do to help. “He just had an unbelievable gift of taking a family situation and seeing how he could work from here to there,” Bruner said. “Every single day, we had someone who needed to find a way when it looked like there wasn’t one.”
He mentioned that students probably look at student accounts people as tax collectors just getting money from them, but Wallace was more concerned with what was best for the individual student. “To him it was more important to be a good steward.”
Pickering said Wallace did his job with grace and truly cared about the students. “In the 12 years he worked for me, I never heard a complaint from a parent.”
Bruner remembers a student in the past from Chicago who “couldn’t rub two pennies together.”
“We just kept working every year… and somehow we got him to be able to graduate with a 4-year degree from Olivet. I think that was one of his proudest moments.”
Haffer’s dad wanted her to transfer a few times because of money issues, but Wallace worked with her, found scholarships, and now she’s graduating this year. “I would not be here if it was not for his help.” He impacted so many students’ lives, Haffer said.
Wallace was dedicated to his job and would come to work early every morning and leave late. “Even when he was getting chemo, he would get chemo in the morning and go to work in the afternoon. Most people fold under with chemo,” Bruner said, but this wasn’t the case for Wallace.
You couldn’t even tell he had cancer those first couple of years, besides him losing his hair, Bruner said. Pickering said this dedication Wallace had even in his sickness was unbelievable.
One thing Bruner says he’ll always remember was in 2007 when he was on life support from a medicine that was poisonous to him and destroyed his heart valve. On the day before the surgery, Bruner went to work and Wallace walked into his office and asked him to come out into the hallway. “He had everyone pray for me,” Bruner said. “It was the coolest.”
Cashier in student accounts, Sharon Bellomy had worked with Wallace for 12 years. “He loved God first, he loved his family, and he loved others.” He was also loyal, supportive, and had a sense of humor. “He had this Scottish accent he would lapse into.”
“[He was] fun, professional, hardworking, dedicated to the Lord, his family, and his job,” Bruner said. “I never saw a waver in his faith. Not once.”
Pickering also said Wallace was “very humorous” and “very godly.” According to Bruner, Wallace would want to be remembered as “serving the Lord at all times—good and bad.”
“There are people who are loved by few and people loved by many. He was one of those people—he was loved by many,” Bellomy said.
“You see the kind of heart that man had,” Bellomy said. She fought tears and got out of her seat to grab a photo of Wallace on her desk and held it up. “He got staff member of the year.” She said. “He was never one to brag on himself. And I miss him so much.”
Although she’s grieving now, she knows that it will all turn out for good. “I can imagine what great things he’s doing in God’s great house.”
—Lauren Stancle, Assistant Editor