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Obituary – Marty Ravellette

Marty Ravellette of Carrboro passed away early Monday November 12, 2007 at UNC Hospital. He was 67.

The son of the late Ernest D. Ravellette and Laurene Frohreich, Mr. Ravellette was preceded in death by his son Marcus Ravellette.

Mr. Ravellette is survived by his wife, Maree Ravellette; a daughter, Nancy Jo Neilsen of Florida; three grandchildren, Marcus Neilsen, Aaron Neilsen and Ayanna Wade; brother, Robert Ravellette; sisters, Edith Stellmaker, Barbara Furry.

Born in Goodland, IN, Mr. Ravellette lived in eight states before moving to Chapel Hill in 1991 and starting his own landscaping business. Born with no arms and trained to use his feet by nurses at the Good Shepherd Home, Marty became well-known and admired for his passion for life and commitment to the community, never letting his disability slow him down. He drove his van, drank coffee, and ate meals with his feet. Friends would see Marty mowing lawns, raking leaves, planting flowers and even chopping down trees with a chain saw.

In 1998, Marty gained instant fame when he and his wife Maree saved a woman from a burning car on Route 15-501. Marty bust through a window with his feet, and Maree pulled the woman from the car. Ravellette appeared on national television and became a local celebrity. In 2004, filmmaker Bill Hayes made a documentary about him called “”No Arms Needed: A Hero Among Us,” which aired on the Discovery Channel.

Marty never shied away from talking about his disability; he used it as a way to bring awareness to the idea that we’re all different, but we’re all human. Inspired by his beliefs as a member of the Baha’i Faith, which he joined in 1967, Marty often gave motivational talks to UNC students on equality, justice, and the unity of mankind. He would often quote one of his favorite lines from the Baha’i Sacred Writings: “Noble have I created thee; why hast thou abased thyself.”

The Baha’is of the Triangle are saddened for Marty’s dear wife Maree and his family.
A memorial service is being scheduled for Thursday night 7:15 p.m. at University Presbyterian Church at 209 E Franklin St. Chapel Hill.

Graveside services will be held at Maplewood Cemetery Thursday November 15, at 2:00 p.m.

  1. Ayanna Wade

    Marty ravellette was more like the dad i never had. He was a very wise and loving man. He always took care of me and watched out for me when times where rough. i will always love this man and i believe that i will see him again someday, but for now his spirt will continue to guide me through life and steer me in the right direction. His family loves him deeply and will never forget him… <3