Members of the community are feeling the loss of an Army guardsman who they unanimously remember as a sort of gentle giant, a "good, Christian man" who was all about his family.
Major Robert Marchanti II, who was killed in an attack on the Afghan Interior Ministry where he served as a NATO adviser, taught in Baltimore County public schools from 1990 until 2008.
According to Baltimore County Public schools officials, Marchanti was a career reservist with the Army National Guard beginning in 1986. During his 18-year career with the school system, Marchanti worked at schools in Pikesville, Towson, Essex, and Parkville.
Charles Herndon, a county schools spokesman, said that Marchanti left teaching in 2008 to pursue a military career. Marchanti was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division when he was killed.
William Adey, a teacher at Carney Elementary School, worked closely with Marchanti who had been a physical education teacher there.
"As far as to work with, he as one of the easiest to get along with. [He] really had a passion for what he did here working with kids," Adey said.
Adey described the mood at Carney Elementary following the news as somber.
"Some of the fifth-graders here remember him — they were kindergarteners when he was here," Adey said. "A lot of the teachers here remember him, I know there was a few that were probably taken aback by the news."
Adey, like many others, described Marchanti as a "gentle giant." He said he remembered that Marchanti, in addition to teaching physical education, would tutor students in math and phonics.
"He was big guy in stature, but he was just so nice," Adey said. "When he first started here—he would tell all the classes that his two passions were to be a soldier and to be a phys ed teacher.
"It’s a shame—you hear about soldiers dying all the time, and when it’s somebody you know it really hits home, but he was just a good guy—he'd do anything for you, take the shirt off his back for you, it’s really a tragedy what happened to him it really is," Adey said.
Marchanti is survived by his wife of 24 years Peggy, who still lives in Gardenville, and four children—three sons and a daughter— the youngest is 18.
Donna Provost, another Carney Elementary School employee, recalled Marchanti in much the same way Adey did.
"There was a particular kindergarten student that Bob offered extra support services. It was so endearing to see them walk hand-in-hand down the hall. The world has lost a gentle giant. God bless Bob and his family," she wrote in an email to Patch.
A second-grade teacher at Carney Elementary, Melissa Schafer, said that Marchanti was always smiling and that his presence in the hall was easy to feel.
"He was such a friendly and outgoing man. He worked great with children and loved his job. If I had a hard day, he would be there to give support and a hug. When he no longer worked at Carney, he still came back to visit when he could. It was always great to see him. He was such a kind-hearted and personable man. He will be greatly missed," Schafer said in an email.
Jean Muhler, who worked with Marchanti at Victory Villa Elementary School in Essex agreed.
"It breaks my heart to think that this gentle giant is no longer with us," Muhler wrote in an email. "He was a wonderful teacher, earning the respect of those young children, and teaching them lifelong skills. A true Christian, gentleman, and all around nice guy. Bob was so proud to serve for our country. He will dearly missed."
Though Marchanti worked at Victory Villa during the 1990s, folks there still remember him. Anita Bass, a Victory Villa parent and one-time reading tutor, shared her memories of Marchanti with Patch.
"From what I remember of him was that he was a great gym teacher the students always looked up to him,” Bass said. “Everybody liked him. He was truly a gentle giant."
Carolyn Kroneberger, a Parkville resident, said that Marchanti was well known throughout northeast Baltimore — especially the Parkville area. She said that she met Marchanti at church more than 20 years ago, and that her children and his played together when they were young—she currently is in the same homeschooling cooperative with Marchanti’s wife, Peggy.
"He was a wonderful father, husband and Christian man. Although he looks like a big tough guy, he was very humble and not intimidating at all, but very soft spoken," she said.
Several sources told Patch that a candlelight vigil will be held in Marchanti’s honor at Heritage Park in Dundalk at 7 p.m. tonight.
Funeral arrangements for Maj. Marchanti have been completed.
According to an obituary on the Evans Funeral Chapel website:
Family and friends will honor Major Marchanti's life at Trinity Assembly of God Church - Lutherville, 2122 West Joppa Road in Lutherville on Sunday, March 18 from 4-9 p.m. and on Monday, March 19 from 11-12 p.m., at which time a service will begin.
Family and friends are urged to arrive by 10:30 a.m. to be present for the Honor Guard presentation prior to services beginning.
Interment services with full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 9AM.
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