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Meet the Member Marshall Greene
story by Lindsay Whelchel
Throughout Marshall Greene’s life, rodeo has been there. It carried him through his twenties as a bareback rider, and it never left completely, even when he and his wife Susan started a family, and he retired from rough stock competition to become a firefighter and paramedic.
It wasn’t long before Marshall’s sons got interested in junior rodeo, and he took up part-time activities as a rodeo clown so he could be there with his boys.
But these days, rodeo, and the rodeo family, is there for Marshall in a much deeper way. It’s there for him as a healer and support system in the wake of tragedy.
On January 4, 2013, Marshall’s sons, Mason, 12, and Zach, 6, were killed in a car accident. Marshall was on the fire truck crew that arrived on the scene of the accident.
“It’s something you never get over,” Marshall says of the unspeakable loss, but as he tells his story, it’s clear that something special has been at work in the years since then that has helped him pick up the pieces.
With a focused energy on being a barrelman and crafting custom barrels, Marshall has been met with endless support from the rodeo community, and now through his involvement as a sponsor at the International Finals Rodeo, he’s hoping to give back.
“When I ran the wreck, it really took a toll on me to the point I was almost ready to give up public safety and was able to step back into rodeo, which really gave me something I could do I actually looked forward to. It just kept me from wallowing in my own sorrow some nights,” he says of increasing his efforts from the previously occasional junior rodeo gigs, into being a prorodeo barrelman and funnyman with the encouragement and guidance of his good friend Robbie Hodges.
“I was able to get out and perform and get that adrenaline rush back I’d missed out on for so long and entertain and then get to be around kids too, because that was one of the things that was snatched from us, just the laughter and fun of kids,” he says and adds, “They just want to laugh and have a good time, and I was able to make them laugh, and that was healing for me. It gave me an outlet and every year that I’ve been clowning it seems like I’ve just gained more and more rodeos, and I’ve been very fortunate in the friends that I have.”
Robbie gave him an old barrel to get started, but the barrel was soon worn out, and so Marshall began to look around for a new barrel to purchase.
What transpired next was a venture into barrel making that has certainly rolled off- pun intended.
Marshall had always heard old tales of barrels being hit by a bull and caving in, and whether that happened often or not, he knew the barrel’s safety was of utmost importance.
He quickly learned most barrels on the market were extremely expensive. So, Marshall and his friend Jeremy, a Georgia State Trooper, were sitting around Jeremy’s shop one evening and decided they were going to try to make a barrel.
Their first finished product was pretty rough Marshall laughs recalling. But as they acquired more and more tools to make the barrels, and as Marshall, given all of his safety experience, was able to perfect his own design, the finished product started gaining popularity.
“I built essentially a roll cage as part of the barrel so it would take a stronger hit than just your normal barrel. What I was able to do is keep the barrel light because of the tubing I was using and the way the barrels were formed up,” Marshall explains and adds, “People started to really like them, and I thought ‘wow maybe I’m on to something.”
Marshall enlisted a neighbor to design custom wraps for the upholstery on the barrels and thus, J and M Barrels was formed. The company has been steadily busy since. “I’m blessed beyond what I could imagine with the barrels,” Marshall says.
Alongside his paramedic work, the barrel manufacturing and his increasing work as a barrelman working rodoes, there was one more element Marshall added to the mix, and it couldn’t have been a bigger hit.
To give Susan something to do during the rodeos, Marshall designed a “photo barrel” where people could come take a picture in a clown barrel.
“With us having lost the kids I thought maybe she’d like to take pictures and help the kids out, get them in the barrels and stuff. I just kind of waded off into it, and next thing you know it took off.”
Calls from rodeo committees across the country came rolling in for Marshall to bring his fun photo opportunity to rodeos across the country. He even had it with huge fanfare at the International Finals Rodeo this past January in Oklahoma City.
Marshall cites his friendships with Robbie, and other fellow barrelmen like Jason Farley and Dusty Myers as now being a highlight of his life along with the good times and friendships that he has made working rodeos every weekend.
He wanted to find a way to honor that with the barrelmen who compete at the IFR Showcase. This year, he sponsored the championship barrelman buckle and custom prize barrel awarded to the winner.
Marshall already has plans to increase his sponsorship to include a barrel given to the IFR barrelman as well next year. It’s a way he can thank the industry that has done so much for him.