Donald ‘Don’ Marvel

Who was Donald Marvel or Don Marvel to those who knew him? I called him Dad.  He was a person who enjoyed music and was dedicated to completing any job that he started.  Don grew up in South Bend, Indiana and there he attended both grade school and James Whitcomb Riley High School. (Click Here to See Various Grade Cards for Don Marvel)

Photo from Elementary School

Don Marvel is in row 3 on the far left

After high school, he worked for Airplane Carburetors, a division of Bendix Aviation Corporation. He operated a hand screw machine making bomb detonator parts. In January of 1943, Don Marvel received his Draft classification notice – 1 A. His date of Induction was February 27, 1943 and began his active military service on March 6th of that year. His assignment was the Signal Corp during the war. After joining the Army, Don was able to attend Stanford University and the University of San Francisco as part of the Army Specialized Training Division – at the “Convenience of Government”.  His date of attendance was from October of 1943 until March of 1944.  (Click Here to see information concerning this training and Donald Marvel’s Discharge from the Army)

In September of 1944, Donald Marvel went overseas with the 303rd Signal Operations Battalion.  He was attached to the 15th Army Headquarters as a communications specialist.  His active duty position was that of a Radio Operator, High Speed. ” He installed, operated, and maintained field radio and communications equipment.”  Also he was responsible for “sending and receiving messages using various code and signal systems.”  Don was stationed at various locations throughout Europe. After WWII, he returned home to South Bend, Indiana.  There he attended Notre Dame for two years majoring in engineering.

   Click here to see additonal photos taken by Donald Marvel during World War II 

In 1947 Don Marvel joined Phelps Dodge Copper Products Corporation in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  There he gained his first experience in tabulating methods and procedures in their payroll department.  He continued in the payroll department until 1950 when he became the Assistant Supervisor Tabulating at Philips Dodge.  He held this position until September 8,1953 when he joined General Electric Corp in their Specialty Motor Department.  Here he became the Supervisor of Machine Accounting. Don Marvel was among many who were the first to be involved with a new way of completing office procedures.  COMPUTERS. He worked for General Electric for almost 30 years until his death in 1979 at the age of 55. Don worked hard and eventually became the Specialist of Data Processing at the Fort Wayne plant.

Donald Marvel’s Personal File from General Electric stated the following:

“Specialty Motor Department installed a card program calculator in 1954.  This was one of the early applications of this type of equipment and the programming was done by Don Marvel.  This equipment was replaced in 1956 by an IBM 650 to which floating decimal arithmetic was added in 1957.  Under Don Marvel’s immediate direction in 1959 Specialty Motor Department began design of a highly integrated system of data processing in one manufacturing subsection having five product lines with a variety of models, $6,000,000 sales and 450 employees.  This highly integrated system includes preparation of engineering documentation on the IBM 650, mechanical application of wage rates, mechanical raw material scheduling, mechanized factory loading, mechanized costing of shipments and customer billing. The whole system is dependent on the engineering and planning documentation which is prepared at the time an order is received and involves storing a large amount of basic engineering and planning data in a RAM file which was added to the 650 in November 1960.  Mr. Marvel did the systems design and programming in this connection and this system has been in successful operation for two years and is being extended to other areas of the Department. In September of 1961 Specialty Motor Department placed an order for a GE-225 system which includes six tape units and a large capacity disc file… Mr. Marvel was senior systems designer and programmer for converting from the IBM system to GE-225.”

Don Marvel was instrumental in methods development, programming, and implementation for such machines as the CPC, the 650, and the RAMAC systems, plus conventional equipment applications for General Electric. In 1958, he wrote and article for the JOURNAL OF MACHINE ACCOUNTING.  This article appeared in their January, 1959 issue.  The title of the piece was “Order Service, Shipping & Billing on a 305 Ramc system.”  Don received many letters from various companies that wished to have additional copies of this article.

He was with the Specialty Motor Department until 1964 at which time he was given the opportunity to join the newly formed General Electric/Honeywell Computer division as someone who would go out and help install and setup computer systems for new clients. This new position was from 1964 to 1968.  In 1964, Don was sent to Peoria, Illinois, where he spent the next two years working with Caterpillar in getting their GE computer systems up and running.  In 1966 he was sent to Detroit, Michigan to work with General Motors (GM) and their new system. By 1968 General Electric got out of the computer business. So Don and the family returned to Fort Wayne, Indiana and where he became the manager of Data Processing at the Fort Wayne location.

Music Was His Passion

As Don grew up, music was a passion.  While attending Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, Don Marvel joined with Herb Remington, Irene Vida, and Jimmy Nellous to form the group called – “The Honolula Islanders“.

In the photo – left to right – Don Marvel, Herb Remington, Irene Vida, and Jimmy Nellows.  The photo of the album cover and insert are from the Herb Remington Album  – Jean Street Swing #3.

All throughout the war, Don’s guitar was always near by.

Even after returning home, Don Marvel was involved with music.  He formed a couple of groups that played ‘gigs’ during the week and many weekends.  I have heard that he also had a radio program during the 1950’s.  Here are photos of the groups that Don was involved with.  I do not know the names of the ‘group’ members nor the names of the groups.


Don Marvel tried his hand at writing music.  He sent a few songs off to see if they could be published. He received rejection letters from music publishers as “not up to the contemporary standards” of the times. One such song was “Night Was Made for Love”, he sent a copy of the sheet music to the Mason Music Publishers.  The response he received from them was the following –    .

September 2, 1950, Don sent a copy of “Would You Believe Me” to Jan Murray at Songs for Sale at CBS in New York, New York. Also in September of 1950, he sent a copy of “Each Tomorrow” to Hill & Range Songs, Inc – Beverly Hills, California.  Their response was the following – Letter from Hill and Range Songs Inc.   In May of 1951, Don sent three songs to Acuff-Rose Publications in Nashville, Tennessee.  Their response was the following- Letter from Acuff-Rose 1951.  These ‘rejections’ did not stop Don Marvel from playing his music.  He loved to share his music with others.

Don along with a couple of others wrote many songs. Here are seven (7) songs written by Don Marvel.  The music is played and sung by Jacob Tilton, the Director of Music Ministries at Fort Worth Presbyterian Church – Fort Worth, Texas.

Big Eared Boogie

Doodly Dee Doo

Each Tomorrow             Each Tomorrow  Sheet Music

Have You Ever Tried to Yodell    Have You Ever Tried to Yodel  Sheet Music

It’s All Over Now

Once In Awhile

Why Don’t You Linger Awhile         Why Not Linger Awhile Sheet Music

Video of Big Eared Boogie

 Video of Big Eared Boogie – Jacob Tilton playing and singing

Video of Once In Awhile – music played by Jacob Tilton