Cathy Marchel, the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce president since 2005, passed away Wednesday night after a long battle with cancer.

Marchel’s son, Tanner, shared the news Thursday morning on Facebook.

“Last night, January 15th at 10:14 pm my mom decided to go walk with Jesus,” he wrote. “With my Dad, sisters, cousin Mindy, and Gram in the room to hand her off to the savior. The last 2 years have been tough. Our family was tested over and over again, but we never lost hope for her. When we came home on hospice we started to focus on the victory that we will have when she is able to be healed, whole, and pain free again.

“If God is for us, NOT EVEN DEATH CAN BE AGAINST US. Although we are heartbroken to have to say see you later, we have victory in Jesus! Knowing that my mom is rejoicing with the choir of angels and staring into the face of our creator is the most reassuring thing we could’ve prayed for. My moms faith fought this cancer for 2 years, longer than every single patient with the resistance her cancer had to chemo, and it was her faith that guided her home. The devil may have taken her body but Jesus saved her soul, he took all the pain she experienced the last two years and threw it over his shoulder. So she can be pain free for eternity!”

“We would like to thank the community, the prayers and well wishes are so much appreciated. We couldn’t have fought the way we did without your help. We will announce the Visitation and funeral plans shortly. I said it once and I’ll say it again. My mom is REJOICING, and so will we to the life she lived, and the legacy she will leave. Live like my mom, live like Cathy. Embrace each day, Love your family, never live down a good opportunity to help someone, and continue to build this community in her honor, because that’s all she ever wanted.”

Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain directed all city flags lowered to half mast in Marchel’s honor.

“I am profoundly saddened that I will no longer hear her laughter, have her wisdom or feel her encouragement, but am grateful for the times we shared serving this community together,” Cain said. “No one has worked harder, believed in stronger or simply loved Cleburne like Cathy.

“While we are saddened, I know that because of her faith in Christ, Cathy has beaten the cancer and is rejoicing in heaven. So, while we don’t grieve as those without hope, we grieve nonetheless for we must continue on without our Cathy. Please pray for [her husband] Justin and the kids/grandkids.”

The Times-Review staff worked with Marchel and the chamber for many years on several projects such as the Cleburne This is Texas magazine.

“I’ve worked with Cathy for so many years after Nell Dixon retired,” Texas Regional Editor Dale Gosser said. “She and I worked closely on many projects between the chamber and the Times-Review. I’m going to miss our conversations. She’s made a lasting impact on the Cleburne community and the chamber, as well as myself. We at the Times-Review offer our sincere condolences to the Marchel family during this difficult time.

“Not only has Cathy helped me during my time at the newspaper, she and I worked closely through the Cleburne Rotary Club. I’ve leaned on her for help during our annual fish fry fundraiser the last eight years and she’s always provided the help we’ve needed to make the event a success. I believe she did that as not only the chamber president, but as a person who truly cared for the community and wanted us to be successful in our endeavors as a Rotary club so we could help provide for the people in Cleburne. I will miss her.”

Managing Editor Monica Faram said she remembers how welcoming Marchel was when she arrived in Cleburne.

“When I first got the job at the Times-Review as features editor Cathy was literally the first person I met,” Faram said. “She welcomed me with open arms. Through the years she grew to be a wonderful friend to me, my husband and my children. I will miss her contagious smile and hearing her laughter as I enter the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce.” 

Community members shared memories about Marchel on Thursday morning while mourning her loss.

“Cathy was passionate about her role as a servant leader for the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce, its members and this entire community,” Cleburne ISD Superintendent Kyle Heath said. “She loved promoting Cleburne, was a beloved advocate of Cleburne ISD and a very committed stakeholder of this community.

“The faith and strength Cathy and her family have shown through this very difficult time has spoken to the hearts of us all. Cleburne ISD will always remember the passion and support demonstrated by Cathy.”

Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon said Marchel was a woman of the highest character.

“When I first met Cathy I thought she was a very vibrant lady, with extremely high character,” he said. “I went to church with her for a little while and we just became very close friends.”

Harmon said Marchel would go out on a limb to help anyone.

“She was a class act lady and did so much for the community,” he said. “We are going to miss her so much. Cleburne was a better town because of Cathy because of all the things she did to help people. There are a lot of things she did that people didn’t know about because she didn’t want the credit.”

Cleburne Police Chief Rob Severance said he met Marchel before he was hired as chief.

“The first time I met her I was doing some fact finding while preparing to apply for the chief job,” he said. “I stopped by the chamber and they happened to not be open that day, but Cathy was there. I asked her a few questions and she was so outgoing and friendly. She gave me a feeling that it was right for me to come and be a part of Cleburne.”

Severance said Marchel was loved by the entire police department.

“We have always worked with the chamber and Cathy on all kinds of events,” he said. “She was certainly loved by everyone at the police department and the community. We are really going to miss her.”

Fernando Rodriguez said he and his daughter went to visit Marchel four days ago.

“I had the chance to tell her how much I love her and appreciate her friendship,” he said. “She really made a big difference in our lives. She will always be remembered as a great person who made a big difference in our community.”

Rodriguez said his family’s hearts and prayers are with Marchel’s family.

“We want to keep our loved ones here forever,” he said. “But, at what cost? Their suffering? We come to this Earth to enjoy life and leave a legacy. And that’s what Cathy did. She enjoyed life and she has left a legacy.”

Chamber board members shared their memories about Marchel as well.

“Cathy Marchel: You can’t say her name without smiling,” chamber board Vice Chairman June Bates said. “What a privilege to have her dance through all our lives!”

A former chamber board chairman, Jason Cech serves as a chamber board member now.

“Cathy Marchel was and will always be an icon and a part of our community. Her infectious smile and attitude touched all that knew her,” Cech said. “She had a way of lighting up a room when she entered and was an ambassador for Cleburne. We are forever grateful to the Marchel Family for sharing Cathy with us all. We love and miss her deeply.” 

Chamber Office Administrator Melinda Finnell said Marchel will be greatly missed at the chamber and in the community.

“Her work ethic, leadership and guidance is something that will live with us forever,” she said. “Until we meet our beautiful friend again. Go rest high on that mountain Cathy. Your work on Earth is through. And boy what a wonderful legacy you left with us.” 

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, also shared his thoughts.

“I am profoundly saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend Cathy,” he said. “She was a leader, a fighter and someone we all looked to for guidance. Cathy’s smile brightened our days and I will always fondly remember our times together. My prayers are with the Marchel family and the entire Cleburne community. I will deeply miss her.”

State Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, remembered how supportive Marchel was.

“Cathy Marchel was one of the brightest lights to ever call this community home,” Burns said. “She was so supportive and encouraging to me personally over the last several years and I always loved being around her because of the positive effect she had on everyone around she came in contact with.

“Simply put, Cathy took care of people. She loved this community and was driven to serve in so many ways. She truly lived the ‘where there’s a need, fill it’ life that Jesus Christ exemplified. Cathy was one of the most positive people I’ve ever met and I hope we all carry her humble attitude and practice her habits of loving others, cherishing family, serving the community and doing it all to glorify God and spread the name of Jesus.”

Former chamber President Nell Dixon, who hired Marchel in 2003, remembers the first time she heard about her.

“One day Brad Allen came into my office and said, ‘There’s this young woman you need to hire. She’d be good for the chamber,’” Dixon said. “I did and Cathy turned out to be a little fire ball. Cathy loved being around people and she did a lot and did it well.”

Working with Marchel was always fun, Dixon said.

“I loved her and she loved me,” Dixon said. “We had a good relationship and I enjoyed getting to know her family. You can tell, from the way her kids have grown up, that she was a good mom and a good wife. But at the chamber, we were a pretty good team. We did a lot of work, but we had a lot of fun.”

Saying goodbye was not easy, she said. 

“I went by to say goodbye to her last night,” Dixon said. “It’s hard to let people go sometimes, but I wouldn’t want Cathy to stay here and still be suffering. She made an impact on Cleburne, that’s for sure. There’s a hole in Cleburne’s family and community today, but I know Cathy’s also in a better place.”

Prayer was a uniting factor for the community as Marchel underwent treatments for cancer.

“I was praying this morning before I knew Cathy had passed,” chamber board Chairman-elect Chuck Bailey said. “I remember saying, ‘God, please don’t be put out if she tries to take charge up there, because she will.’ I have a feeling something special is going on in heaven now that Cathy’s there.

“Cathy will be missed by so many. Not just because of her role through the chamber. That was her paid job. But her real position was Cleburne’s ambassador 24/7.”

 Cleburne bankers Guy James and Tim Whitlock shared similar thoughts about the chamber leader.

“My first thought when I heard this morning’s sad news was prayers and deepest sympathy to her most wonderful family,” James said. “Thinking about it now, I thank God for Cathy’s amazing life of service and the fact that we were honored to have her and her family in Cleburne. Cathy’s heart and spirit were so large. There’s probably none other like her in Cleburne.”

“Cathy wasn’t one in a million, she was one in 10 million,” Whitlock said. “She was such an energetic, positive person all the time and through everything. From a personal standpoint, Cathy was such an amazing person and I’ll never forget the impact she, Justin and her family had on my family and on our community.”

Farmers Insurance Owner Blake Jones worked with Marchel in many avenues — from Cleburne Rotary Club to serving on the chamber board.

“When thinking of Cathy, there is an old Greek proverb that comes to mind which says, ‘A society grows great when old men and women plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.’

“I know I speak for hundreds of people when I say this, but there has never been a time that Cathy was not there for me. She helped me establish my business here in Cleburne. She was there when my children were born. She was there when my family had passed. Regardless of how busy her day-to-day life was, she always made time to ask what she could do for my family.

“Cathy truly spent her days building the foundation for the success of families and businesses around her. My sincerest hope is that everyone who has been blessed to know her will pay forward the same unrelenting kindness and selflessness she has given them.”

Jerry Cash said he and Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon were on the chamber board as ex-officio members when the board interviewed Marchel for the president’s position.

“We weren’t voting members but the rest of the board asked for our input,” Cash said. “Of course we were for hiring Cathy and she certainly didn’t disappoint. She went on to be a great asset to the chamber and the community. She helped put together one of the best chamber programs certainly in the area and I’d say one of the best across the state.

“Cathy was certainly a doer and a giver and not a taker and she’ll definitely be missed.

The same, Cash said, applies to Marchel’s family.

“Everyone I know feels the same about her family,” Cash said. “With Justin having been principal of Cleburne High School and his roles in education with the [Texas Education Agency], Weatherford and other places. And their kids, too, the whole family just like Cathy is truly an asset to our community.”

Marchel remained steadfast and true to form throughout her final months, he said.

“Cathy had the best attitude for someone trying to beat cancer of any person I’ve ever known,” Cash said. “She gave a hard, well-fought battle. Today is a big loss but I’m certain she’s a better place now.”

In July, Dr. Ken Shaw, Southwestern Adventist University president, shared about a special gathering in Marchel’s honor in his monthly column in the Times-Review.

“Serving on the chamber board as an ex officio director, I experienced firsthand Cathy’s dynamic and positive personality and it became very clear why she received this recognition,” he wrote. “It was about two years ago now that we as a community were saddened to learn that Cathy was diagnosed with cancer. During these past months of receiving treatments, she has always remained positive and selfless, continuing to give back to the city she loves.

“Last week, news was shared through several listservs that a special gathering would take place at Cathy’s home. Arriving 10 minutes early, I noted around 100 community members already standing in her front yard ...

“In the small group that I joined, I felt the passion and care each person had for Cathy as their prayers were sincere and heartwarming.”

Visitation is from 5-8 p.m. today at Rosser Funeral Home, 1664 W. Henderson St. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at The Heights Church, 1315 Grandview Highway in Cleburne. Burial will be held in Rosehill Cemetery.

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