The "Bubblegum man" dies at 88
In small communities there is always "that one person that everybody knows." This person is almost always seen at the time and place in public, and their personality never changes and is distinct. They are a pillar and icon in the community.
For Webster County that was Marvin "Bubble Gum Man" Beach. How did he spend most of his
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time? Passing out bubble gum to players, students, parents, and just about anybody else who wanted a piece at various Webster County sporting events over the years.
Beach died last Tuesday, but there are several people who will always remember who he was and what he meant for Webster County.
"He was the number-one Trojan fan," Webster County football coach and assistant athletic director Zack LaGrange said. "He would beat me to some games on Friday nights. He will be greatly missed by our athletic program and each kid that has gotten a piece of bubble gum from him."
Trojan football games were some of the first WCHS sporting events that Beach attended when his grandson, Brian Hinton, played football for the Trojans from 1992 to 1996. Beach was an avid supporter at these games and was a very active fan as Hinton says that the team had to turn down the volume when they watched film on Saturdays because all that could be heard in the background was Beach saying "Come on Brian, get 'em boys." Whenever Hinton served as an assistant coach for Andy Corbin in the mid 2000s, Beach would travel with his grandson and support the Trojans at nearly every road game.
But Beach supported more than just Trojan football. He was also a common spectator for Trojan and Lady Trojan games at Trojan Gym, where he would sit down and pass out bubble gum while talking to every single person that walked past.
"I remember him being at every single game and just being the sweetest man at the gym," former Webster County standout and current Bethel College starter Cayden Edmonson said. "He was there first always it seemed like. He always wanted to be friendly to everyone."
Beach also travelled to some of the Webster basketball games in surrounding counties in the area, and his offer for bubble gum was not reserved to just Trojan/Lady Trojan coaches, fans and players.
"He'd basically be sitting there and begin talking to the other team," said Julie Rhodes-Hinton, who is Hinton's wife and Beach's granddaughter in-law. "He'd be like 'Hey, hey you want some bubble gum?' and he would throw it. At first they would look at him like he was crazy, but then we would just explain to them that he was our 'bubble gum man."
The tossing of the bubble gum and words of encouragement were not limited to just the confines of Trojan Field, Trojan Gym, or Clarky Clark Athletic Complex. For some Webster County athletes, the handfuls of bubble gum came in a pleasantly surprising ambush.
"I can remember having practice in Clay and sometimes he'd stop on the side of the road as the team ran by and would toss us out a handful of Double Bubble," former Trojan cross country runner Reece Clayton said. "It was just one of those unique moments you don't forget."
The one drawback to being an icon is that sometimes people remove the personal biography from that person's life. For several people in Webster County, it was rare to see Beach not at a WCHS game. But when looking at Beach's whole life, it is quite interesting.
Born in Wheatcroft on November 25, 1930, Beach learned hard work from an early age as he had to leave his education at Wheatcroft School in the fifth grade to work to help the family. A decade later in August 1951, he entered the military as he served until July 1953 over in Germany.
After his service, he returned to Wheatcroft to live and began work at a factory in Evansville before working at the Pleasant View Mines in Hopkins County. Beach temporarily left the area as he moved to Antioch, Illinois in 1964, but he returned to Wheatcroft in 1968 -- working at the rock quarry over in Crittenden County.
But Beach was not satisfied with this job, and he wanted more.
After getting off of work at the quarry every day, Beach went to Dotiki Mines and stood outside every single day until somebody offered him a job as he showed great determination and resilience. He was finally awarded a job in 1969, and that is where he worked until his retirement in 1992.
From his retirement until his death, Beach was likely to be found in a gym or at a field. But his unwavering support was not limited to just WCHS Athletics. He made a great effort to attend the games of his relatives--evident by him never missing a single one of his great-granddaughter Madison's basketball games from the time she was in kindergarten up until his death as Madison is now a sophomore playing on the Lady Trojan basketball team.
Beach is one of those people that was not fully appreciated while he was here. It was no form of disrespect or ignorance for what all he did. It was simply that Webster County fans thought he would always be there: sitting in his seat, passing out his bubble gum, socializing with both Webster and opposing fans and players alike.
This winter "The Bubble Gum Man" will not be in attendance at basketball games at Trojan Gym. But the impact that he left on countless Trojan fans, players and coaches will always be remembered. Beach may be gone, but his legacy will never be forgotten.