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Vincent reflects on lifelong friend

FRI. |2-23-24| FEATURES

     Marvin Jarman was a man of few words. When he did speak, he spoke in his own sort of lingo, fondly named by those around him as “Jarmanese”. While it doesn’t take long to decipher his language, one man is more fluent than all others: Ronald “RV” Vincent.

     RV and Marvin first met over 50 years ago through Marvin’s brother, Grant. There was an almost instant connection between the two, as if Marvin was the puzzle piece missing in RV’s life.

     “Back when we were youngsters, 15 or 16, his brother and I started hanging around a lot together,” RV said. “Marvin would be with him, and one thing led to another.”

     Ever since then, they have been inseparable. During his time as a student at Rose, Marvin would act as team manager for many sports including baseball, basketball and football. It was through his time with the baseball team that he was able to build a connection with RV, who was a player on the team at the time.


Contributed photo

     After his graduation in 1969, Marvin remained a part of the community that had embraced him, staying involved in both Rose and Greenville athletics as a coach and manager. Continuing to be a part of the Rose community was important to Marvin, as it gave him a routine to follow and familiar faces to look forward to. 

     After graduating from East Carolina University (ECU) in 1969, RV returned to Rose as a social studies teacher and baseball coach. Over time, RV and Marvin’s friendship continued to grow. 

     “At first, it was just taking Marvin places and going to ball games together, and it became an unbelievable friendship; we did so many things together,” RV said. “My children who are in their 40s now never remember a day without Marvin.”

     Across the many years of their friendship, there were very few days that the pair spent apart. They spent most of their time on the campus of Rose coaching whatever sport was in season, but also liked going out to watch ECU sporting events and even Major League Baseball games.

     “Out of 365 days a year, I’d see him every day but two or three,” RV said. “He wouldn’t go on vacation [with me] if there was practice in any sport.”

     As the friendship grew, so did their legacy. In their time coaching the baseball team together, RV, with Marvin by his side, would rack up six state championships and over a thousand wins, more than any coach of any high school sport in North Carolina. 

     One of RV’s most vivid memories of coaching alongside Marvin was his ability to stay calm and composed through any outcome. Marvin also preferred to keep his celebrations to himself rather than flaunting his successes in the faces of the opposing teams.

     “I remember when we won our fourth consecutive football championship, he pumped his fist and said ‘four in a row, baby!’, and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” RV said. “He wouldn’t say a whole lot about it because he dad-gum sure didn’t want to brag.”

     After Thanksgiving of 2023, Marvin’s friends and family began to notice what they feared most after his astonishing 1,326 game streak of basketball games attended ended on Jan. 10 when his usual spot on the bench was left empty, to the dismay of the Rose players, coaches and supporters.

     “We always considered Marvin indestructible,” RV said. “He was always there, he was always gonna be there and then when he didn’t feel good enough to go to that basketball game and broke his streak, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.’”

     Although Rose athletes were playing without the comforting presence of Marvin around for the first time in 50 years, they pushed themselves even harder each day to honor him. In the last few months of his life, Marvin refused to let his illness impact his relationship with RV. RV would often visit and speak to him even as he remained in poor health. While Marvin lived his last days in a hospital bed, he would not let the Rampants slip his mind either.

     “He kept talking about ‘Pitch, pitch’, and I couldn’t figure it out,” RV said. “He’s sitting there in the hospital bed, not doing well, and he was worried about someone keeping the pitch count for our scrimmage Saturday; I had to make sure he knew we were going to be able to take care of the pitch count for that game and we’d do it until he got back into it.”

     On Feb. 18, 2023, Marvin succumbed to his illness and passed away peacefully holding the hand of his niece, Charlotte. As not just Rose, but the city of Greenville lost an influential figure, supporter and legend, RV and others felt the immediate support from those around the country.

     “I’ve got text messages basically from all over the country, California, Texas, Florida and all over North Carolina, hundreds and hundreds,” RV said. “It’s really been overwhelming, in a good way.”

     Marvin’s impact on Rose athletics will not be forgotten any time soon, as his legendary presence spanned across many generations of Rose students and athletes.

     “His impact is lengthy and great,” RV said. “He’s had a huge impact on Rose athletics and Rose High itself just by being who he is, walking the halls and seeing people, knowing all the children and their parents.”

     As RV and others reflect on and celebrate the life of Marvin John Jarman, there is not one negative word to be spoken about the life he leaves behind; the life of the greatest Rampant.

     “He was the best person I’d ever known,” RV said. “He’s just such a treasure to Greenville and Pitt County and North Carolina… he sure has made me a better person.”

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