Marv Inman belonged in a museum.
And he spent a lot of time in one lately. Inman liked going to the New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven, where he usually found an audience happy to listen to his local-history tales.
“He had stories of old-time Long Beach Island that nobody else had,” said Gretchen Coyle, a museum volunteer. “Marvin was one of a kind — a bayman, a duck hunter, a hunting guide. ... And his family went way, way back on LBI.”
Coyle wrote a tribute to Inman after he died last month, at 82. Inman lived mainly in the West Creek section of Eagleswood Township, on Ocean County’s mainland. But for decades, he also lived much of every hunting season on Sandy Island, in Barnegat Bay behind Long Beach Island.
He was the hunting guide and caretaker since the 1960s at the Sandy Island Gun Club, and there, he was salty and crusty enough that one nickname was “Mudflap Marv.” But Coyle adds any time he went to the museum, he cleaned up both his act and himself very well.
“He would go in there dressed and groomed ... just as dapper as he could be,” Coyle said. “He had this devilish grin, and he loved the ladies.”
But long before he started talking history, Inman was living history, living the classic bayman’s life. He was such an old-time character that in 1997, he won a Hurley Conklin Award, an annual Ocean County honor given to people still living “in the Barnegat Bay tradition.”
Dick Shackleton, a lawyer based in Ship Bottom, got to know Inman well when Shackleton and the now-late Bill Inman, Marv’s big brother, bought Sandy Island Gun Club in about 1966.
Marv was the first guide they hired, and he never left. Shackleton called him “irascible as hell, but a great guy.” He added that Marv was so good with a gun that even as a boy, he could tell somebody to throw a dime in the air — and then shoot a hole in the coin.
Marv and his ex-wife, Betty Lou, had no children, but they adopted or foster-raised at least six.
One daughter, Patti Stewart, of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, can still get teary at the loss of “a good man.” But she admitted he could also be an “SOB” — only all spelled out.
“If he didn’t want to hear you,” she said, “he just turned his hearing aid off.”
But after a lifetime of living history, passing on history at the Maritime Museum was important to him.
“That kept him going,” Stewart said. “He could schmooze them, man. He could be a very personable Joe.”
So he’s definitely missed at the museum. The same is true at the Sandy Island Gun Club, where the owner needs a new guide — after 45 years with the old one.
“We’re looking,” Shackleton said. “But you can’t replace Marv. You can find somebody, ... but he is truly irreplaceable.”
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