Flat Creek File – Goodbye to an Old Friend
(The Flat Creek File appears quarterly in Kentucky’s Goat News – This is a reprint from the July 2009 edition)
I’ve mentioned in this column before that one of the things I like most about being involved in the goat and sheep industries is the people I meet. Some of them have become far more than business associates. Many have become close personal friends.
Such was the case with former American Meat Goat Association president Marvin Shurley and his wonderful wife, Wanda. I had corresponded with Marvin for some time before we actually met, but during that first face to face encounter we developed a bond that was nearly unexplainable. Perhaps it was shared interests, but I think it went deeper than that – we genuinely liked each other and, through the years of our association, grew closer and closer. The miles between Marvin’s ranch in Sonora, Texas and our place on Flat Creek were bridged by phone calls and e-mails and, thanks to the industry, we were able to get together a few times a year at livestock functions. The bond just grew stronger and stronger.
I last saw Marvin at the 2008 ASI Spring Tour in Washington DC. We shared a taxi to back Regan airport and said our so-longs, fully expecting to get together again on down the road. Shortly after, the shocking news came that tumors had developed on his brain. Then the cancer metastasized and insidiously spread though his body. We lost Marvin on April 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as he was undergoing an aggressive treatment for his illness. Just over a week later I was back in DC for the 2009 ASI Spring Tour, but it just wasn’t the same without Marvin.
Shortly after learning he had cancer and before the disease robbed him of his strength, Marvin began to complete his “bucket list.” I recall an excited phone call (as excited as Marvin ever got) about 7:00 one Saturday morning, telling me he had successfully booked an elk hunt he’d been putting off for some time. A few weeks later he e-mailed me some photos of him grinning over the rack of one the biggest trophy elk I’ve ever seen. Marvin never did anything half-way.
With Marvin’s death, the most knowledgeable and influential voice in the entire goat industry was stilled. Though few knew it, many of the actions and events that have shaped the industry thus far were the direct result of Marvin’s passion and persistence. Others will rise to champion the cause of the lowly goat, but none will replace my dedicated dear friend. If I can do nothing else in his memory, I will continue to pursue his goal of a united industry through the establishment of the American Goat Federation. As I write, an interim board of directors is being selected to set the course for the future of the AGF. The fulfillment of his dream is in sight.
It has taken a while for me to be able to write these few reflections. Even now, emotions and memories come flooding back making this all the more difficult. However, it was a true blessing to enjoy his council and companionship, even for such a brief period. Farewell, dear friend.