Marion C. Roche
Marion Roche was born in 1912 in Walton County and learned about farming firsthand in the family dairy business. After moving to Panama City he graduated from Bay County High School and enrolled at the University of Florida in 1931. After withdrawing for a year to find work during those tough economic times, Marion returned to UF in 1933 and found a job waiting tables at a boarding house and managing the University poultry farm. He earned his B.S. degree in 1936 and began his long career in agricultural education as the first vocational agriculture teacher at Ocala High School.
In 1942 Marion enlisted in the Navy, where he served as lieutenant commander on a patrol craft on convoy duty. He returned from the war in 1943 and resumed his teaching position in Ocala. His students excelled in FFA competitions, with many earning state and national FFA degrees. Four of Marion’s dairy judging teams competed in the National Dairy Convention from 1951 through 1963. He was named Florida Vocational Agriculture Teacher of the Year in 1940. He also received the Honorary State FFA Degree in 1955 and the Honorary American FFA Degree in 1956. His greatest source of pride as a teacher and FFA advisor has been the success of his former students, many of whom have become leaders in Florida agriculture and have continued his legacy of outstanding service to agricultural education and FFA.
He earned his master’s degree in agricultural education from UF in 1941, and a year later married Virginia Trieste, also a teacher in Ocala. Marion earned a second master’s degree from UF in 1952. Along the way, Virginia and Marion had four daughters, five grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren, and were happily married for 61 years before Virginia passed away in 2003. In 1963 Marion’s career changed course as he accepted the position of Director of Vocational and Adult Education in Marion County. He expanded agricultural education in the county from 39 to 160 fulltime agriculture teachers, establishing vocational agriculture programs at every middle school and high school in Marion County. At the same time he started his own agricultural enterprises, focusing on citrus and pine trees. He was honored in 1986 for his 50 years of service to Marion County Schools. His long and stellar record of service to vocational education and agricultural education came to a close with his retirement in 1988.
Marion has been a state leader and active member in many organizations throughout his career. He has received awards and recognitions for his continuous conservation efforts, long-time service to Cooperative Extension, community service, and leadership in the agricultural industry. After his retirement Marion continued to farm and began volunteering with the Florida Retired Educators Association and many other groups. He remains a staunch supporter of agricultural education and FFA, as well as the University of Florida.
W. Travis Loften was inducted into the Florida FFA Hall of Fame October 13, 2007.
NOTE: Mr. Roche passed away in 2010.