Marvin Malley Champion
Biography and Genealogy
Wilcox County, Alabama
Marvin Malley Champion was born August 9, 1909 in Sunny South (Wilcox County), Alabama. He was the 2nd child of three brothers and four sisters. His parents were Hugh Gaston Champion, Jr. and Mable Clara Hare. They were a poor family, living in a sparsely inhabited community pulled together by a small church called Independent Church and cemetery.
One sibling who died young of pneumonia was buried in that cemetery. His father was a tenant farmer, raising corn and cotton with a percentage going to the landowner at the end of the year.
Times were hard during his early life. Marvin went to the local school and spoke of carrying his lunch, which consisted of biscuits from the morning breakfast carried in a sorghum tin pail.
All the brothers helped the dad in the fields as soon as they could and missed many a school day to work along side him. Dad finished the 8th grade but later in his life he became self- educated.
Christmas time the weather was always very cold and presents were few. Dad stated that he always got an orange and peppermint sticks as gifts.
During his teenage years he remembered that his dad always had to spend some designated time “working the roads” along with other men of the community. When it was my dad’s time to do this he decided to leave Sunny South and go north to Tuscaloosa where he heard that there was work at the Bryce Hospital. He got on the bus and headed north.
He did get a job at Bryce Hospital, which was a state owned mental health facility as an attendant. Then it was known as the State of Alabama Insane Asylum. Life now had improved slightly having a full time job. At the hospital he met his future wife, Ara Williams who was a Registered Nurse at the facility. They became secretly married in 1931.They eloped along with another hospital couple to Columbus, Mississippi to be married but they kept it a secret for about a year. The Hospital Superintendent, Mr. J. S. Tarwater, knew they were married but kept this information to his self. At that time married couples could not work in the same facility.
Ara then became a housewife and they rented a white house one block off University Boulevard. This house now has been demolished and University Buildings and the Bear Bryant Museum sit on location there.
World War II began in the early forties and men were needed to work in defense plants or serve in the armed forces. Since dad was married with two children he was not in the first draft. He was to do defense work and was hired by the Dupont plant in Childersburg, Alabama. His job was to help produce TNT used by the armed services in fighting the war. The family moved to Childersburg and was located in nice housing built for defense workers called Coosa Courts.
Children were born: daughter 1935 in the middle of the depression and a son 1939.
After the war the defense plant was closed and the family moved back to Tuscaloosa and dad began work in the BF Goodrich Rubber Plant. Dad bought land after securing a loan and built a home on 12 acres on Bear Creek Road in Tuscalosa County in the Gilgal Community. Ara went to work as a RN at Druid city Hospital where she retired after 25 years. Their children attended Tuscaloosa County Schools and both graduated from the University of Alabama.
Dad’s hobbies from childhood were hunting and fishing, he now concentrated on turkey, and deer hunting. He joined the Bear Creek Hunting Club not far from his house and spent many hours at the ole clubhouse with the men of the community telling “tall tales”.
He still liked the smell of the earth and engaged in raising vegetables in his garden.
Gilgal Baptist Church was the focus of his religious activities where he served as a deacon and was known as a respected member on the community.
Ara, his loving wife died in 1981. After living with Alzheimer’s disease for almost 10 years he died in 1992. The family still misses “Pap” as his four grand children called him.
- Daughter, Jean Champion Butterworth