Longtime Houghton Lake pharmacist Samuel “Pat” Marra, 95, died July 1, 2022, at his home.
Details regarding a funeral service, to be held this summer, will be provided at a later date.
Born April 15, 1927, in Sault Ste. Marie, he was the son of Leonard and Nunciatta “Nancy” (Clement) Marra. During his childhood in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marra worked as a paperboy for The Sault Evening News. Marra attended Sault Ste. Marie High School, where he got his start and found his love for music while playing the bass horn or tuba. He graduated with the Class of 1945. Early into adulthood, Marra gave the sport of boxing a try and was known during that time as “Hot Damn Sam.” After his high school graduation, Marra entered Ferris Institute, now known as Ferris State University, as a student of the pharmacy school.
While attending Ferris Institute, Marra worked at Maltas & Flood Drug Store, Sault Ste. Marie, where he delivered prescriptions by way of a motorcycle with a sidecar. At Maltas & Flood Drug Store, Marra developed a liking for the store’s camera section and became a collector of cameras as a result. His love for photography lasted through his life.
Marra met Jeanette “Jenny” Louise Rohr, who became his wife Sept. 2, 1949, when they married at her parents’ home in Dayton, OH. Not long after their marriage, Marra graduated from Ferris Institute and the couple moved to Houghton Lake, where Marra took his first and only pharmacist job at Hunts Rexall Drug Store. Becoming established at Houghton Lake, the couple started their family and had five children. They also raised Marra’s youngest brother, Mike, after the death of their mother. His family also grew when the couple welcomed Norwegian foreign exchange student Bjorg Baadsvik, who became their “Norwegian daughter.”
Working for Walter Hunt at Hunts Rexall Drug Store, Marra eventually became president of the pharmacy in 1975. In 1966, the original drug store was razed and a new store, located at the current site of Rite Aid, was constructed. Then in 1991, Marra’s son, Dana, bought the drug store and Marra officially retired in 1992.
In retirement, Marra and his wife focused on the life they had built together. The couple traveled and spent their winters at their condo in Punta Gorda, FL. During the summer months, they enjoyed pontoon rides on Houghton Lake. Marra did not fully retire, as he took on the project of developing Oak Marr Subdivision from 1995 to 2000.
Prior to Mrs. Marra’s death in 2018, he cared for her during her battle with Alzheimer’s. Marra, who turned 95 in the spring, spent the latter part of his life enjoying the sunrises on Houghton Lake, watching others enjoy the lake and spending time with his friend group, known as the “old timers.”
Those who knew him understood that his wife, Jenny; the community; and music were all important aspects of his life. Marra had a “nothing is impossible” attitude. Marra will be remembered by those who knew him as a man who, often behind the scenes, helped both individuals and small businesses. His family remembers him as a man who helped others but did not make it known to the public. Music was part of his life and connected many of his passions together. He made sure all of his children played a musical instrument and participated in marching band. During the 1960s, Marra shared his love of music as a member of The Grenadiers, a community-based band that played from a pontoon floating along Houghton Lake. Marra, later in life, could be found at home listening to his favorite marches. Family and friends were a priority of Marra and there was always time for a trip to The Soo, a cup of tea or a pontoon ride on Houghton Lake with family and friends. His wife, Jenny, was the love of his life and for more than 70 years. He loved her, cared for her and was devoted to her. When describing his life, Marra had once said, “I’ve had a very good life.”
Marra was a man of many accomplishments and was a member of the Soo City Band and was a tuba player and president of The Grenadiers from 1963 to 1969. He was a member of several boards including Redman Insurance Board of Directors in 1973, Chemical Financial Bank Board of Directors from 1973 to 1997, Northern States Bancorporation Board of Directors in 1978 and Houghton Lake Ambulance Board of Directors and was Hunts Rexall Drug Store president from 1975 to 1991.
He was a member of St. Francis Episcopal Church of Grayling, National Association of Retail Druggists (NARD), Investments Club, American Pharmaceutical Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce, Houghton Lake Merchants Association, Houghton-Higgins Lake Elks and Houghton Lake Kiwanis Club. He also served as a mentor to the community’s youth and to intern pharmacy students. He also sponsored Tip-up Town ice sculptures created by Parker Seiler and Dynamite the Clown.
Preceding him in death were his wife, Jenny; daughter, Nancy Bernhoft; brothers, Frank, Louis, Johnny and George; sister-in-law, Mary Grace; and grandchildren, Deborah and Kevin Bernhoft.
Surviving are his children, Becky (Mark) Davis of Warrenville, IL; David (Irene) Marra of Mesa, AZ, Dana Marra of Houghton Lake; Janet Marra of Houghton Lake; and his “Norwegian daughter,” Bjorg (Baadsvik) Rubin of Rochester Hills, who has three sons and four grandchildren of her own; brother, Michael A. (Sharmin) Marra of Coon Rapids, MN; 14 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren, who knew him as PawPaw or grandpa; lifelong coworker, Orra Miller of Roscommon, and many nieces and nephews, some of whom considered him Uncle Party, Uncle Pat and Uncle Pop and loved him dearly.
Memorial contributions may be directed toward the Houghton Lake Educational Foundation through the Roscommon County Community Foundation.