William Gordon Rutherfurd Marden passed away Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the age of 95.
Bill Marden began his adventurous life on June 1, 1922 in New York City. Bill’s mother, Janet Frances Rutherfurd, was his father’s, Francis Skiddy Marden’s second wife. She was a nurse from New Zealand, and when she died from pneumonia when Bill was 10, his father sent him and his two brothers to New Zealand to live with their grandmother on a sheep station. Life in New Zealand was rough: he learned how to shepherd sheep, ride thoroughbred horses, shoot guns, and shear sheep. He attended a boarding school that practiced public floggings. Despite these challenges, Bill’s imagination thrived. He invented a cannon that shot a spear a half-mile away and a parachute for a cat., but he got pretty scratched up while climbing a water tower to throw the cat off.
When he was 18 years old, just before WWII broke out, Bill came to California on a cargo ship. He hitchhiked across the US with $20 in his pocket and signed up to take physics at Harvard during the summer session. He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry He received his Master’s degree in 1951 from Cambridge University in England. It was when he was in England that Bill met the love of his life, Anne Marie Dumont, who was only there for two weeks. They were married June 8, 1952 in Belgium. She wore a short black velvet dress with a string of pearls in an unconventional wedding. They were married for almost 66 years. Bill was an excellent father to their children Anne Beatrice, Janet Frances, and William, teaching them how to swim and how to ride horses. In fact, when they were young he helped establish a 4-H Club for English riding, the Larkspur Pony Club in 1971, and the Texas A&M Polo Club with Andre and Jose from Argentina. He taught them important life lessons such as the value of an education and that buying land is the key to wealth.
During World War II from 1942 until 1947, Bill served in the Navy on a minesweeper in the Pacific near the Philippines. He earned the rank of Lieutenant First Grade. It was during this time in the Philippines that he learned how to sail and how to navigate using a sextant. Thus, his love of the sea and sailing began. His wife often said the sea was his mistress. During the summer of 1967, Bill took the entire family on a sailing vacation from Palacious, Texas to Bar Harbor, Maine. The cousins met them in Maine for an afternoon sail and a lobster bake on board the sailboat, which had been named “Pipe Dream”. Meme thought the boat should have been called “Drain Pipe” when it was being built out of mahogany in British Honduras. The next summer he took Bea (age 11) and 3 other crew members to circumnavigate Newfoundland on Pipe Dream. Bill and Bea then hitchhiked from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts before Bill landed his plane solely on instruments at Easterwood Airport. He believed life was meant to be lived through traveling, meeting new people and telling stories. During the 1970’s Bill gave presentations every year to the Texas A&M Sailing club. He received two awards from the Flying Fish Club for crossing the Atlantic alone at age 80 and for being the oldest member of the yachting club.
Bill was a reproductive physiologist. He invented the electronic ejaculator for bulls and began manufacturing them himself in 1954. His invention was patented in 1957. He brought his invention to Texas to work on cattle. The first breed he tried his invention on were Gray Brahman cattle at the Hudgins ranch in south Texas. During the 1970’s he set up breeding labs in Argentina and Panama. It was a challenge balancing his love of sailing every summer with running the “Marden Bull Motel” during the balance of the year.
Bill was known for his wild, unkempt appearance. He looked like a sailor. He was about as subtle as a thunderstorm, and cared passionately about his interests. When an oil well was being drilled on his property, he became involved in the day-to-day trifles of drilling oil wells. He was passionate about flying planes, reading books, and telling stories. He was especially interested in his ancestry, the heritage of the family – the “Journey of a Lady of Quality” and “Rutherfords of that Ilk.” He loved to travel the world and meet new people. He canoed with Annette in Canada, sailed the Caribbean, crossed the Atlantic to sail the Mediterranean, and sailed a second boat called Fancy Free from Taiwan to Columbia. One time in Saint Martin he met an older gentleman in a chart shop. They started talking and discovered that they were related. What a small world!
Bill leaves behind his wife of almost 66 years, Annette, his daughter and son-n-law Bea and Dave Kulp, his daughter Janet and her significant other Mike Stewart, his son and daughter-in-law Bill and Rubiela Marden, his 15 grandchildren: Caitlin, Christine, Natalie, Yasmina, Nicolas, Rossmarie, Rosselen, Rossviena, Rocio, Nathan, Tyler, Larissa, Megan, Tiffany, and Heather, and his five great-grandchildren: John, Clara, Lucas, William, and Madisyn.
To honor Bill’s incredible life journey, his family has planned a Celebration of Life to will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Hillier Funeral Home of Bryan. Interment will follow at Alexander Cemetery. Please share any memories or tributes to Bill at www.hillierfuneralhome.com
Click here to view a webcast of the service on 6/9/2018 at 11:00 AM