Howard C. Marmon
|Although Howard C. Marmon was one of Avery County's chief benefactors, he was not a native son. He was born in Richmond, Indiana, on May 24, 1876, but lived with his parents at Linville and at Col. Wilder's Cloudland Hotel on Roan Mountain during his youth. The family moved to Indiana in the early days of the State where his father established the Marmon Manufacturing Company, which was the largest manufacturer of roller mills in the world. In his teens, young Howard developed tuberculosis and when his physician recommended a change of climate, his parents sent him to Roan Mountain, Tennessee, where he lived with the Sherman Pippins family, whom he considered his second parents. At the end of a year, he was cured and his father called him home to attend college - first at Earlham College and then at the University of California,|
|The first Marmon on an Indiana road.|
where he was graduated with a degree in engineering. Howard Marmon never forgot the Western North Carolina mountains, and he and Mrs. Marmon came back in the late 1920's to make their permanent home at "Hemlock Hedges" in Pineola. Soon he, with Mr. E. R. Ricker of Spruce Pine, founded Kaolin, Inc., which they operated until 1942, when it was leased to the Harris Mining Company.
His work during the first World War took him to Dayton, Ohio, where he helped to design the famous Liberty airplane engine and later twice to Europe where he was a consultant to an Italian firm in the manufacture of airplane engines. He retired as a lieutenant colonel, and his war records are housed in the Hoover Library of Stanford University.
After the war he returned to the manufacture of the best automobile money could buy. he perfected the V-8 engine and then devoted his attention to the V-16, his favorite. It was he who introduced the widespread use of aluminum in building the mechanical parts, thus greatly reducing the weight of the motor.
Mr. Marmon was a Presbyterian, and he was generous in his support of the Pineola Presbyterian Church, giving much of the money used to erect the present church building. He was also interested in conservation of natural resources and established the Anthony Lake Nursery to promulgate the native trees and shrubs, and built a fish hatchery to stock the mountain streams and lakes with native fish. His Avery County Estate, Hemlock Hedges, held the only original stand of timber in this area and also one of only six Taiwan spruces in the nation.
The Marmon's had no children and at Mrs. Marmon's death in April, 1959, (Mr. Marmon had died April 4, 1943) her nephew, Robert Morrison, inherited all the Marmon property in North Carolina. At his death Mr. Morrison established the Morrison Library at Newland, Avery County's public library, and left a substantial trust fund to the Garrett Memorial Hospital in Crossnore and the Cannon Memorial Hospital in Banner Elk, N. C. Avery County Airport is called Morrison Field in honor of Robert Morrison who donated the land for the airfield.