Braille Monitor November 1986
by Hazel tenBroek
Oscar Wilde once noted that "most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event." For Muzzy Marcelino (heaven help the poor wretch who might address him as Larry) there were no such days. His passion for bringing the justice due under first-class citizenship to every blind person in the country clad the most commonplace chore with excitement. He served individual blind people, the local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind, the state organizations, and the entirety of the National Federation of the Blind with joy. Not that Muzzy was a saint. He did his share of grumbling but usually at the method or about his unnecessary self-doubt in meeting a challenge.
He was sent on many missions for the National Federation of the Blind to almost every state in the Union, including Alaska and Hawaii, and he went--sometimes with fear and trepidation about the traveling. But fear or no, he went. He tramped the halls of the national capitol and the state legislature tirelessly. In Sacramento Muzzy was a legend in his own time. Secretaries, aides, legislators, and waitresses all addressed him by name and with affection.
In the long years that he edited the organization's publication in California, his preference for elegance, clarity, and correct usage in language was apparent. Muzzy's most outstanding trait was his gentle soul. He was frequently angry, but rarely on his own account. He preferred to say yes ratherthan no. He wore the crown of leadership uneasily. He knew well that he was a good lieutenant, and he would rather follow orders than give them. Sometimes this led to difficulties, but usually his good humor took command. For the period that he served the California affiliate as President, we were all giving him advice. For the most part, we wanted him to be successful for his own sake, as well as for the sake of the organization. Two good friends, one in the north and one in the south, took him in hand. He christened them Nagatha North and Nagatha South. At times he felt beset and George Canning's lines came to mind:
Give me the avowed, erect, and manly foe Firm I can meet,--perhaps return the blow!
But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send,
Save, oh, save me from the candid friend!
But though he complained and fussed, it was done with love on all sides. But Muzzy was a leader whether he held office or not. Many turned to him for personal or career advice, and he gave them what he perceived to be a truthful reply--the best that his knowledge and experience had to offer.
Muzzy was, most of all, my friend--a steady hand, a shoulder on which to rest a weary head, an arm on which to lean when overcome with grief, and, always, an understanding and compassionate mind with which to work out all manner of problems and against which to try ideas. For Muzzy, too, could be candid. He did not withhold his thoughts or his feelings, but gave all he had.
Much has been written about friendship. Nicholas Grimald wrote: "Of all the heavenly gifts that mortal men commend; what trusty treasure in the world can countervail a friend." And Ecclesiasticus says: "A faithful friend is the medicine of life." But Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up well: "A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." Muzzy Marcelino was, indeed, such a masterpiece.