Marvin Wait – A man who liked any train he saw!

A remembrance by Josef Lesser

Last May 2012, LARHF lost one of its dear friends and devoted LARHF Board Members. I had many opportunities to share a variety of railroad experiences with Marvin. We first met in 1999 at the San Diego 3-Railers Club in the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The members decided that a new layout should be built. Once a design was finalized we began the construction with a fury! Marvin cut out the composite board roadbed curves for the layout. He and his wife’s company, Doors Unlimited went on to design, build and install display cases that would complement the woodwork in the Toy Train Gallery.

Gold Line “San Diego 3-Railers Club – Marvin Wait placing cut out curved roadbed

San Diego 3-Railers Club – Marvin Wait placing cut out curved roadbed
Photo by Mike Hays

San Diego 3-Railers Club – Marvin Wait given the honor of the first drive-through when the layout’s trackwork was completed

San Diego 3-Railers Club – Marvin Wait given the honor of the first drive-through when the layout’s trackwork was completed
Photo by Mike Hays

Electric – Glendora Line, Car No. 732 in front of the Azusa Station – 1951

San Diego 3-Railers Club – Marvin standing in front of one of the display cases he produced and installed.
Photo by Mike Hays

At that time the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation was in its early planning stages with the gift of an 8,000 square foot building in Alhambra. Marvin offered to build for LARHF a desk and twenty-five feet of cabinetry, kitchen shelving and a really special display cabinet for William Everett’s Pacific Electric and LARY collection of hand-built models. His company crafted this furniture in their factory and brought it from San Marcos (near Escondido) and installed it in Alhambra.

Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation offices and research center – desk and cabinetry built by Marvin Wait’s company with Ron Gustafson looking at transparencies

Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation offices and research center – desk and cabinetry built by Marvin Wait’s company with Ron Gustafson looking at transparencies
Photo by Jeff Cutting

Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation offices and research center – display case for the William Everett Collection with Ron Gustafson and Jo Ann Lesser admiring one of Bill Everett’s LARY cars

Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation offices and research center – display case for the William Everett Collection with Ron Gustafson and Jo Ann Lesser admiring one of Bill Everett’s LARY cars
Photo by Jeff Cutting

That was only the beginning. LARHF began to develop its “satellite” exhibits for highly trafficked locations to give the general public an understanding of how the railroads were responsible for the extraordinary growth of the greater Los Angeles basin. Again, Marvin and his wife, Susan built the display cases and installed them in the satellite locations.

LARHF Satellite Display in the Old Spaghetti Factory in Riverside, California.

LARHF Satellite Display in the Old Spaghetti Factory in Riverside, California.
Photo by Jeff Cutting

Several road and rail trips were planned for Marvin and me to travel north into Oregon and east to Fort Worth, to meet leaders of the railroad industry and of course watch trains, ride trains, and to videotape the trains. A couple of Marvin’s favorite “watering–holes” while traveling were Bob’s Big Boy, the Red Lobster and any BBQ joint - he could smell the smoke/aroma from miles away.

Marvin Wait and Roger L. Titus checking out the McCloud Railway rolling stock, Mount Shasta, California

Marvin Wait and Tom Harmon in front of a Central Oregon & Pacific diesel at Medford, Oregon.
Photo by Joe Lesser

Marvin Wait at the Caboose Motel, Dunsmuir, California.

Marvin Wait at the Caboose Motel, Dunsmuir, California.
Photo by Joe Lesser

Marvin Wait and Roger L. Titus checking out the McCloud Railway rolling stock, Mount Shasta, California.

Marvin Wait and Roger L. Titus checking out the McCloud Railway rolling stock, Mount Shasta, California.
Photo by Joe Lesser

Marvin eventually used his railroad experience and extensive collection of videotapes and computer drawing software, to create a spectacular model train layout. He built this layout in a stand-alone building constructed adjacent to his home. Having been totally involved in the construction of the San Diego 3-Railers Club layout, he was aware of the potential problems in layout design plus all of the myriad details in its construction and found working solutions with his team of construction friends. Of course the model railroad magazines were anxious to highlight his layout. And they did. It should be made perfectly clear that there was nothing about his trains and layout that were less than hi-rail (prototypical) and O-scale except for that darn third rail.

Marvin Wait’s O-gauge railroad layout

Marvin Wait’s O-gauge railroad layout
Photo by Marvin Wait

Marvin Wait always had a camera to his eye

Marvin Wait always had a camera to his eye.
Photo by Joe Lesser

Marvin served on LARHF’s board of directors for several years until the driving from Escondido to Alhambra became impossible. He was LARHF’s first emeritus director.

We all sorely miss him.

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