HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A World War II veteran is being honored here in Houston, but it isn't his service in the military that he's being recognized for. Thousands of Houstonians have met Marvin Smith. He was a sailor, turned successful oil and gas guy, turned scam victim who was left destitute, but his story took yet another unexpected turn.
Mr. Marvin, as he’s called, never met an ear he didn't like, and the ears at the Weekley YMCA seem to be just as fond of Marvin Smith. “I love this man right here,” one woman says.
90-year-old Mr. Marvin has been the greeter at the Weekley Y for about a decade. It's actually quite a story that landed him here.
”Quite frankly, I was broke,” Mr. Marvin says.
You see, after retiring as an engineer he relaxed, "Playing a lot of golf, doing some traveling.” He invested in a friend's business venture. "He'd been at my elbow when I lost my wife, when I had open heart surgery. I knew his family,” Mr. Marvin explains but he didn't know his friend as he thought he did. Mr. Marvin received a call from the FBI informing him he had been scammed along with a couple dozen other Houstonians.
Mr. Marvin was broke and taking care of his sick mother. ”Two old people on Social Security. We weren't making it,” he said. He took the only job that would have him. "I tried to sell vacuum cleaners door to door. I can not tell you how badly that made me feel."
Then he learned the place where he'd been working out since the building opened was hiring. The Weekley YMCA needed a greeter.
After a decade on the job, he still gives a kind word, a smile and a sticker to the kids and the kids at heart. He says spreading joy, building confidence and letting people know they are loved is important to him. “All the stickers are donated. A lot of moms bring me the stickers so I can give them out. The kids love it.”
Mr. Marvin still works out at the Y. The 90-year-old still drives his car. The big house he once lived in is a distant memory and replaced by a small apartment. It's a place he never thought he would be, but now, right here is exactly where he feels he should be.
"I have no family here, except myself, and I need contact with other people. I can't see myself sitting in a room some place watching TV and reading books."
So when does Mr. Marvin plan to retire? He doesn’t. He says as long as his health allows he will be right there greeting guests at the Weekley Y, and today the Y held a nice celebration for his years of service.