Marvin Oetting was born in 1938 and was raised on a small Missouri dairy and livestock farm near Mansfield. His leadership skills became apparent while a student at Mansfield High School as he was president of the FFA chapter and earned a State Farmer degree. He was also president of his junior and senior classes and graduated in 1956.
In addition, he was an active student at the University of Missouri. Marvin held Borden and Kildee scholarships; was a member of the Honor Society of Agriculture Gamma Sigma Delta; won the 1957 Missouri Collegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest and was high individual at the 1959 National Collegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest; was vice president of the National Student Branch of the American Dairy Science Association; was a member of the Dairy Shrine; and was named outstanding senior in dairy science when he graduated in 1960.
Marvin completed a masters degree in 1962 and a doctorate in 1969, both at the University of Missouri. Both degrees were related to dairy science, the masters concerned with nutrition and the doctorate with genetics.
Marvin dedicated 35 years of his life and his entire professional career to teaching and administration at the College of the Ozarks. He was instrumental in establishing an agriculture department and developing a four-year program in agriculture. He was department chair for 25 years prior to becoming a division chair where he was still administratively responsible for the agriculture program.
While at the College of the Ozarks he became a leader in state, regional, and national agricultural organizations. He became a legend in his ability to judge dairy and beef animals and was an excellent showman in the ring.
The list of Marvin’s memberships in agricultural organizations include National and Missouri Holstein Associations; National Hampshire Association; National and Missouri Polled Hereford Associations; United State Animal Health Association; plus, many civic organizations. He was an active member of those organizations holding leadership positions in most.
The list of his service to agriculture as an official judge is equally long and impressive. Marvin was a frequent judge of dairy and beef shows at the Missouri State Fair, Ozark Empire Fair, Southwest Texas Regional Show, Pan-American Livestock Show, Southeast Missouri District Fair, and numerous county, FFA, and 4-H shows and events in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Marvin was also involved in production agriculture most of his life. At the College of the Ozarks he was general manager of all the farming operations and at the time of his death he owned and managed a quality registered herd of Polled Herefords on his Lake Land Farm in Arkansas.
As a teacher at the College of the Ozarks students eagerly enrolled in his classes where he had the ability to blend the practical with the theoretical and his class projects were well known on campus. Administratively, Marvin was effective without being heavy handed.
Despite all of his accomplishments, Marvin remained a quiet and folksy individual who could make everyone feel at ease in his presence yet all knew they were associating with a highly intelligent individual.
Marvin married Judy Clark Aug. 27, 1961.
Tragically, Marvin and his wife Judy, four other College of the Ozarks employees, and one student were killed in a plane crash Dec. 9, 1999. Three children, Bryan, Kristi, and William, and three grandchildren survive.
Don Swearengen, a fellow faculty member, said “Marvin’s life provided all the members of our division a guide post by which to measure if we have lived as well as he did. His legacy shall always be a part of the College and our lives.”