Man behind Marvin Windows' growth dies

WARROAD, Minn. – William S. “Bill” Marvin, who led the growth of Marvin Windows and Doors from a regional lumber company to a world-renowned manufacturer, died August 31, 2009, at his home in Warroad, MN surrounded by his family. He was 92 years old.

Bill was born on August 25, 1917, in Warroad, Minn., the eldest son of George and Almina (Gibson) Marvin. He graduated from Warroad High School and the University of Minnesota.

Bill was united in marriage to Margaret Wallin on March 22, 1941. He is survived by his children Frank (Margaret) Marvin, Warroad; Margaret “Peggy” (Sam) Johnson, Warroad; John “Jake” Marvin, Warroad; George (Mary) Marvin, Warroad; Susan (Keith) Marvin, Warroad; and Robert (Loralee) Marvin, Warroad; grandchildren, Virginia, Daniel, Paul, William, Catherine, Sarah, Jeffrey, Paula, John, Brooke, Mark, James, Desiree, Christine, Victoria, Stephanie, Angela; 25 great grandchildren; and sister Mary “Mimi,” Minneapolis.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Bill worked briefly for General Mills before returning to Warroad in 1939 at the request of his father, George. He joined the Marvin Lumber and Cedar Company as its eighth employee. Not long after Bill’s return, the company began building custom wood window and door frames to keep the company busy during the winter season.

Bill later pushed to expand the offering to complete windows and doors and led what is now known as Marvin Windows and Doors to become the world’s largest premier made to order window and door manufacturer. Bill assumed the company’s presidency and chairmanship in 1960. Under his leadership, the company grew every year except 1961, when the Warroad factory burned to the ground. Bill most recently served as Honorary Chairman of Marvin Windows and Doors.

Bill was widely recognized for his multitude of business and civic contributions. He was inducted to the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, Twin Cities Business magazine’s 2007 Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, received the Distinguished Minnesotan Award from Bemidji State University and was named to Builder magazine’s 100 most influential building industry leaders of the twentieth century, 1988 Moorhead State L.B. Hartz Professional Achievement Award, 1990 Bemidji State University Distinguished MN Award, 1992 University of MN Outstanding Achievement Award, and 1995 Warroad High School Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award.

Bill was a past President and a member of the Window and Door Manufacturing Association for 45 years, and also served on the Board of Directors. He was involved in the Northwestern Minnesota Manufacturing Association and served as the Director of the National Woodwork Manufacturers Association from 1979-1981, as well as being a member for a number of years. He was on the Board of Directors of the American National Bank and Trust in St. Paul, Minn. He was a lifelong member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Warroad.

Along with his involvement in these industry organizations, Bill also devoted much of his time to community organizations. He served as the Warroad Commercial Club President during the 1940s. He was also a member of the Warroad Hospital Board for more than 30 years, and served a number of years as Chairman. Bill volunteered his time and services to the Warroad Fire Department and served as Chief for a number of years. He contributed to numerous projects in the Warroad School District most notably construction of the pool at the Warroad High School. Bill and his wife, Margaret, will also be remembered in the community of Warroad for their recent endowment of a $15 million scholarship fund to benefit graduates of Warroad High School seeking higher education.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Margaret; brothers Frank, Calvin “Cal,” Jack, and Randolph “Tut”; two infant children and one granddaughter, Alison.

The funeral service will be held on Friday, September 4, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. at the Warroad High School Gymnasium with Reverend Merna Major officiating. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the William S. Marvin Visitor Center in Warroad, and one hour prior to the funeral at the school. Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery in Warroad.

In lieu of flowers Memorials may be made to the Warroad Swim Program Fund in care of the Northwest MN Foundation, the William S. and Margaret W. Marvin Fund benefiting the Warroad High School Scholarship in care of the MN Community Foundation, or the Warroad Senior Living Center Fund in care of the Northwest MN Foundation.

Arrangements are being made by Helgeson Funeral Chapel of Warroad. An online guestbook may be accessed online at