Alan Marriage, 54

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Alan Adrian Marriage, 54, died unexpectedly in a motor vehicle accident on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2003.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 4, at 2 p.m. at Summers Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home.

Alan was born August 24, 1949, in Nampa, Idaho, to Ellen (Berriochoa) and Kenneth Marriage.

Alan was raised and educated in Mountain Home, then studied architecture at the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he met and fell in love with Lana. They were married in 1971.

Throughout his lifetime Alan explored a diverse and eclectic variety of occupations. Shortly after their marriage, Alan began driving truck for North American Van Lines. He delivered furniture and household goods around the country with his Uncle Albert.

In 1973, Alan left the trucking industry for a move to Boise to join up with the "hard country music" band, Tarwater, as their Business and Promotions Manager. Alan toured the Northwest with the band, and soon after they cut their first album, Tarnation, "Captain" Terry Campbell joined them as Alan's business partner. In 1975 they formed H.A.R.D. Corporation, and successfully organized and staged Tarwater's First Annual Hard Country Music Festival in Idaho City.

The travel and musician's lifestyle was exciting and busy, but Alan's family was growing and he yearned to be with his children. After the birth of their baby girl, with three growing appetites to feed, Alan and Lana re-evaluated their priorities.

In 1977, Alan quit the music business and started working in construction with his childhood buddy, Jim Lemmon. After a year or so, finding it difficult to make ends meet, Alan tried selling water softeners, then telephone systems for a living.

Shortly after Alan's father, Kenneth, suffered a fatal heart attack, Alan moved his family to Mountain Home, where he tended bar at his grandfather's lounge, Adrian's Club. In his short time working for the family business, Alan remodeled a small kitchen in the back of the club, which became a successful luncheonette run by his mother, whose Basque cooking and soup and sandwiches became a family favorite.

Soon Alan decided to venture into his own small business where enthusiasm and natural ability turned his hobby into a thriving livelihood. He opened a small shop in his garage at home specializing in custom cabinetry. Once Alan expanded the scope of his business beyond cabinetry into furniture repair and refinishing (primarily supported by furniture damaged in the military moves) for the folks at MHAFB, his reputation as a quality craftsman grew, and the volume of his work increased steadily.

Alan continued to build his empire and raise his family. He began to experiment as a sculptor, and was eventually invited to the White House to present President Reagan with a life-sized bust of himself made of cherry wood (as in, "who cut down the cherry tree?") and California Redwood (since the president was elected out of California). The notoriety he gained from his visit with President Reagan in the Oval Office, inspired commissions to sculpt several other large projects. Cleo Swayne of Walter's Ferry near Melba, commissioned him to sculpt a 7-foot high, 2000 pound, white cement statue of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and 12 life-size lambs, which still stands in a prayer garden on a hill on her property.

Alan's bread and butter, though, remained in furniture repair and refinishing. He eventually wrote a book about professional refinishing, which he published on the Internet. Response to the book was slow at first, but grew steadily and turned into a discussion group with other professionals involved in the refinishing industry. This group discussion spawned the idea of creating the "Groop" a web-based moderated discussion group where professional craftsmen and artisans from around the globe compare woodworking ideas and applications. The "Groop" started with about 30 professional refinishers and woodworking craftsmen, and has grown to over 250 members worldwide.

"Alan's favorite things in life were simple," his family said. "He loved raising his children and doting on his grandchildren. He seemed to thrive on solving difficult problems that nobody else would touch. He loved sculpting and carving and creating anything out of wood. He loved the feel of wood in his calloused hands. His gardening and landscaping projects became an endeavor of love.

"He was an excellent writer and communicator," his family said, "and from the day he bought his first Amiga computer so his children would be computer literate, he became an avid computer buff. He was a self-taught webmaster and worked for hours daily to keep his "Groop" up to date and sharing with each other. He lovingly referred to this "Groop" business as the 'well of refinishing knowledge'.

"Alan was filled with compassion and humanity," his family added. "He always had time for anyone who needed a listener and was a friend to all. Even when he had more to do than the day would allow, which became nearly every day in recent years, he always had time to 'smoke and joke' with a drop-in friend, or lend a hand when needed."

He is survived by: his wife, Lana; his children, Adrian, of Nampa and wife Jennifer, Austin, of Port Orchard, Wash., and wife Stacie, and Amanda, of Pensacola Fla.; his two grandchildren; and his sister Barbara and her husband, John.

The family is gladly accepting flowers. Donations can also be made to Life Flight in Alan's name.