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Roxane B. Salonen, Published May 03 2013

Living Faith: Marv taught craft, how to live well

In the fall of 1986, I arrived from Montana in the new and foreign place of Moorhead, Minn., my sights set on becoming a television news reporter.

Having learned the state university just across the Red River in Minnesota boasted a solid mass communications program, instead of heading westward toward the mountains like many of my college-bound peers, I went eastward to the prairies.

And so I found myself, the first hour of the first day of my college career, being awakened by a spitfire Marv Bossart intent on introducing us to the exciting world of broadcast journalism.

Not only was Marv a livewire with a passion for the business but he doubled as a local television news celebrity. I realized quickly I’d landed in the hands of a well-qualified instructor – the best of the best.

Marv offered a well-informed preview of the nuts and bolts of television news reporting, not only in that class but others that followed, and much more.

Along with teaching us succinct writing and the inverted pyramid, he’d sprinkle his lessons with antics that had gone down in the newsroom over the years. Sometimes, he’d pull out videos of these hilarious happenings both on and off air.

Though serious about the business of communicating information to the public, Marv wanted us to know life should never be taken too seriously; that a bit of self-deprecating humor makes it all the more worthwhile.

Even after graduation, I continued bumping into Marv. When I joined Nativity Church just out of college, I did a double-take seeing him parading up to the front with the rest of the choir members, donning a robe and the kind of twinkle found only in the eyes of those who’ve discovered the secret of living well.

I last saw Marv a couple years ago in the grocery store and was surprised he remembered me. After we bantered a bit about some local issues, he shared how proud he was of the work I’d been doing in communications.

Despite my having veered more into print, Marv had helped shape my career, and seemed to find satisfaction in seeing those who’d been under his tutelage soaring. He was right to take some of the credit.

When I learned of Marv’s death, though I wasn’t completely shocked knowing he’d been ill, I nevertheless felt the familiar gut-tug of losing another significant and precious person. So at an invitation to join the choir at Marv’s funeral services a week ago, I didn’t hesitate to accept.

What an honor it was to stand in the spot I’d first seen Marv in his choir robe all those years ago and help send his soul into the heavens through the gift of song – another shared passion.

During the funeral homily, the Rev. Dale Lagondinski mentioned a quote often attributed erroneously to St. Francis (I’m still doing my fact-checking, Marv), but valuable nonetheless: “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

Though Marv swam in the world of words by nature and his profession, in the end, we are left not so much with his words but a visual remembrance of a man who wasn’t afraid to laugh whenever possible, to cry if necessary, and to love deeply.

Of all the things Marv taught me, these are the dictates I find most valuable and hope to impart to the young ones in my charge.

Eternal rest grant unto Marv, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

This column was written exclusively for The Forum.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her,

email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com