Manti artist, collector fights
cancer, and still creating
By Ryan Roos
Apr. 26, 2018
MANTI—Rodger Marshall is changing the way we see the world around us—one creation at a time.
Nestled in the heart of Manti’s historic downtown, his shop, R&D Creations and Antiques, has fast become a Sanpete County destination for antiques and collectables as customers seek out both the traditional and the unique.
With a passion for the west, and the eye of an artist, Marshall has been quietly crafting for years some of the most outrageous yet beautiful pieces of furniture available, all by turning yesterday’s scrap into today’s prized living-room decor.
His life, however, has been turned upside down. Marshall is fighting the biggest fight of his life. He is battling pancreatic cancer. But he is not alone. The community has rallied to his support. And he is still turning out creations while receiving treatment.
If that sounds impossible, then you’ve clearly never met Rodger Marshall.
Born to Bill and Betty Marshall in 1955, Rodger was raised in Levan, Utah. His early years were spent studying his father’s gift for recrafting odds and ends into new formations. Inspired by the endless possibilities, Marshall began to search out anything mechanical that his young hands could find.
Prominent Levan resident Henry Ballow noticed the eightyear-old’s unusual interests and presented Marshall with his first antique: a golden 1874 Eglin Railroad pocket watch. “It still works to this day.” Marshall said with pride. “I would tinker with everything, but that watch just fascinated me.”
In 1972 at the age of 17, Marshall enlisted in the army during the Vietnam era in an effort to bring his mechanical talents into the service of his country. And while Marshall prefers to keep this period of his life private, it was on a fortuitous army furlough during the summer of 1975 that Marshall would meet his future bride, Diana, in Spanish Fork.
The couple married soon after Marshall’s service ended and today, after 43 years of marriage, they are the proud parents of three children and seven grandchildren.
Marshall received his technical training at UVCC as a clock smith and auto mechanic. This led to 36 years as professional automotive technician, 28 of those years being with the Ford Motor Company. Marshall was a recipient of the Ford Master Technician award, along with 143 certifications.
Marshall also felt the call to serve his community. For 20 years, Marshall worked as a valuable member of the Juab County Sheriff’s Department of Search and Rescue. Despite his career successes, sharing his creations and owning his own antique shop was a lifelong dream. “I’ve always had a love for antiques. This is what I worked for my whole life.”
That dream came true in 2014, when Rodger and Diana opened R&D Creations and Antiques at 37 N. Main St. in Manti.
To visit Marshall’s shop is to visit a small slice of the old west – the outlaw west. As customers wander among a large collection of vintage furniture, they can view themselves in uniquely styled horse Hame mirrors, run their hands across end tables crafted from local barn wood or turn the dials of the outrageous and popular “steam punk” lamps and desks, which Marshall has created from an intricate series of lights, gauges, knobs and pipes collected from across the globe.
Yet when you ask local customers to offer their thoughts on the eclectic shop the focus quickly turns to their feelings of fondness toward the man behind it. “Honest, one-of-a-kind and loyal,” said one patron: “He’ll always give you a fair shake and that means something today.”
Thankfully, that loyalty and friendship has been reciprocated. On February 17, 2017, the entire Marshall family was dealt difficult news as Rodger was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. But the Marshalls were far from alone in this fight. On January of 2018, Michelle & Dan Dalley of Lazy-D Pawn in Centerfield hosted a raffle to support their friend, and the community rallied to respond.
Among the prizes donated to the cause were a Heritage Pistol donated by Lazy-D Pawn, a Winchester rifle by Ray Hartung of Centerfield, and “Bullet Tools” by Austin Keele of Panguitch. The fundraiser resulted in the raising of nearly $2000 for Marshall’s treatment, with the Winchester rifle being generously re-donated to further increase the money raised.
The community’s generosity deeply affected Marshall. “Not only financially, but it made me feel good that people really cared,” he said. “I love the people of Sanpete County.”
Dan Dalley made it clear the feeling is mutual: “Rodger’s a good dude and this is a good community. All you need to do is give them a place to do it and they’ll do it. And that’s a fact.”
When confronted with the question of whether to keep his shop running, to continue to work on his projects or to change his outlook on life while fighting cancer with aggressive treatments, Marshall refused to back down. “I’ll live each day like I always have: for my wife, my kids, my grandkids, and my friends.” And if that sounds impossible, then you’ve clearly never met Rodger Marshall.