Arthur Marlan Stover was born on the Hooker sheep ranch, now Stover Ranch, in Redwood Valley on April 21, 1920.
Delivered by his grandmother and weighing only three pounds, he was kept in a shoe box stuffed with lamb’s wool and raised on goat’s milk with an occasional drop of whiskey.
As a very young ranch hand he came to love the land and appreciate the outdoors, something that stayed with him all of his life. Working on the ranch and doing what needed to be done gave him an amazing work ethic, one he passed on to his multiple generations.
Marlan was seven years old when the family rented a house in Arcata so he and his brother could attend Stewart Elementary and later Arcata High School. Marlan remembered meeting his future wife Helen Arnold in the dry goods section of Brizards Department store when he was just eight years old.
Marlan was musically inclined.He played saxophone in the Boy Scout band, the grammar school orchestra, and band and orchestra in high school. During his senior year of high school, he played in a dance band with Helen and lifelong beloved friend Jean Schussman (Falor). They played regularly at the Arcata Veterans Building. During his college days at HSU he played for weekend dances with brother-in-law Charles Arnold, Helen, and Jean.
In October, 1941, Marlan joined the Navy and was stationed in Dearborn, Michigan. He began corresponding with his “friend” Helen who was attending college in Kalamazoo.
In April of 1942 he took Helen on a bicycle ride – with Helen riding on the handlebars – and asked her to marry him. They were married in September of 1942 during a furlough in Arcata at the Methodist Church.
During his time in the service Marlan was trained as a carpenter and sent to Saipan. After the end of the war, Marlan returned to the Stover Ranch where Helen and their first born, Tommy, were living while he was away. T
hey remained on the ranch for five years. The family grew to include Judy and Libby. With Helen’s encouragement, Marlan decided to go back to school. The family moved to San Jose where Marlan, under the GI bill, graduated with departmental honors in two years.
After graduation the family moved to Santa Rosa where Marlan taught wood shop and industrial arts at Santa Rosa Junior High, Montgomery High School and night classes at Santa Rosa Junior College.
He also founded the Industrial Arts and Wood Shop programs at Rincon Valley Junior High School. Many of his students later chose careers in the trades and became successful contractors. He always delighted hearing of their accomplishments.
During this time, Marlan continued with his education receiving a Master’s degree in Industrial Arts Education and a Life Teaching Credential. The family continued to grow with the additions of Laya and Alene.
In 1967 Marlan and Helen moved the family back to Humboldt County to run the Stover Ranch. They purchased 2,000 sheep and with the assistance of their daughters Libby, Laya and Alene settled into ranch life.
A year after their return, Judy came to help, as well as Tom, who was discharged from the army and moved to the ranch to assist with the sheep, cattle, logging and other facets of the ranch business.
While operating the family ranch, Marlan and Helen also taught at Green Point School. Helen taught K through Grade 4 and Marlan taught 5 through 8. He was also the bus driver and the principal.
While teaching he started a wood shop program along with their other academic subjects. Helen had a thriving music program at the school. They loved their teaching years and cared deeply for their students.
They were proud of all of their students, who when it came to reading, tested above the state average.
They also mentored student teachers that went on to have lifelong and successful careers.
Many past students have shared the positive impact being taught by Marlan and Helen had on them.
In the late ’70s Marlan and Helen moved back into town to care for Helen’s father Homer Arnold. Marlan and his son-in-law, Paul George, started S.G. Builders. Paul and Marlan continued to work construction together until Marlan was 82 years old.
Marlan was very creative and artistic. He loved carving birds and shared them with family and sold them in local venues. He also enjoyed hunting on the property and made many lifelong friends who loved not only the hunt, but hearing stories about ranch history and “the really big ones, back in the day.”
Marlan had a great love and true partnership of 76 years with his wife Helen. During his later years he and Helen thrived with their family; five children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Through triumph and tragedies, Marlan and Helen were the glue that held the family together. Marlan was a hardworking, diverse, educated and no-nonsense man.
He and his brother John Jr. (Bill) managed the ranch until his brother’s passing in 2009.
Though he missed his brother, he continued on as the managing partner of the Stover Ranch until the age of 99. Everyone he touched will attest to his energy, loyalty, honesty and integrity. He is and will be greatly missed by his family and countless friends.
Marlan is survived by his son Thomas Stover (Kathy), his daughters Judith Stover, Libby George (Paul), Laya Field (Richard), and Alene Webb (Ron), his grandchildren Marlan Stover (Tami), Amy Mendoza-Stover (Juan), Trask Bailard (Libby), Hudson George (Sarah), Maxwell George (Kathy), Logan Purser (Andreanna), Allanna Purser, Bryce Jimmerson (Adrienne), Ronald Webb II (Shelby), 11 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his wife Helen Arnold Stover, his father John William Stover, his mother Alene Gastman Stover, his brother John William Stover Jr., his sister-in-law Barbara Hodge Stover, his uncle Hudson Stover, his aunt Margaret Stover, his brothers-in-law Charles Arnold and Dr. Homer Arnold, his sister-in-law Elma May Arnold Draut, and his grandson Austin Purser.
The family would like to thank Marlan’s wonderful caregivers Amanda, Heather, Jessica and Ashley.
The family would also like to thank nieces Kathy Bessette, Karen Kelly, and Lauren Richey, nephew Charlie Arnold, friend Mary Ellen Langlois, Dr. Corrine Basch, and Hospice of Humboldt. The family offers special thanks to the entire Falor family.
In lieu of flowers please make donations in Marlan’s name to the Arcata Veterans Memorial Building, 1425 J St, Arcata, CA 95521.
One of Marlan’s favorite things was watching his family and friends enjoying their time together.
The April 25 gathering has been postponed and his celebration of life will be announced at a later date.