Henry Marshall Debus
May 2, 1979 – March 15, 2019
After suffering a sudden catastrophic cardiac event, Marshall has left his earthly body surrounded by the love of his family and friends. He is survived by his wife of 18 years, Lisa and his beloved children, Abby 13, Dane & Trevor 10 and Brock 5. He leaves behind countless friends and many family members to mourn his untimely passing.
Marshall was a gentle giant of a man, a quiet hero who accepted what life gave him and rose above it. He was a proud member of 2nd Recon Division Marines for four years, enlisting at age 17. During this time, he met a Canadian transplant who was to be his wife, partner and mother of his children as they aged together. His Canadian relatives welcomed him with open arms and he became family. After being honorably discharged from the Marines, Lisa and Marshall headed back to Montana where he had been born and raised.
Being the man he was, Marshall promptly enlisted in the Army National Guard where he was mobilized after 9-11, eventually receiving an honorable discharge for medical reasons after a devastating injury to his knee.
Despite professing to hate school, Marshall was always enrolled in one course or another. Prior to 9-11, he was on the path to becoming a firefighter. His knee injury put an end to that dream. Instead of crying over life’s disappointments (of which he had experienced many), Marshall picked himself up and decided he could best help others by teaching, majoring in both elementary and special education. During this time, Marshall welcomed Abigale Hannah and no baby girl was ever loved so much. Marshall had no qualms with being Mr Mom while Lisa worked. Those big hands of his could wrap the baby burrito as quickly and snugly as any neonatal nurse ever could.
In 2008, Marshall graduated MSU Billings with a dual degree in education and special education. Later that same year, he welcomed double bundles of joy in Dane Taylor and Trevor Henry. Marshall was often seen with a baby burrito tucked football-style under each arm while dancing about the kitchen with Abby.
Marshall was always busy. He loved to eat and he could grill anything to perfection. He could often be seen standing outside on the deck in a driving snow storm or pouring rain checking his steaks or chops. Neighbors got used to the smell of the BBQ in winter and would just smile and wave from the comfort of their warm houses.
Marshall and his family moved to Great Falls in 2010. Once there, Marshall promptly enrolled in college again, this time taking the Paramedic program. He was employed by Eagle Ambulance Service, based in Montana City and together he and Lisa raised their family. He taught by example, often walking to the neighbors’ and shoveling their driveways after a snow storm, holding doors for people at each and every opportunity, offering to carry items or help in any way he could. He and Lisa sacrificed some of their own together time so that their children were always with one or the other of them. Here in Great Falls, they welcomed their fourth baby, Brock Anton, and once again, big Daddy would bathe, wrap baby burritos, and football carry a baby while the other little ones sat on his big feet or wrapped around his legs. Their house was filled with children’s laughter as he would play wrestle with the boys and dress up with Abby.
And here it was that Marshall discovered the art and joy of home brewing. He often had a batch of beer fermenting in the closet, doing the bottling after the kids were in bed. He loved to experiment with different flavors, tossing this & that into the pot like a mad scientist. The neighbors were often the recipients and taste-testers of each batch as Marshall would grab a few bottles at a time and head out for a visit.
In 2018, Marshall moved his family back to Billings and quickly found full time employment with Big Horn County Ambulance Service, where he once again endeared himself to everyone he met. He continued to work with Eagle Ambulance Service, Billings. Despite not being born a Canadian, he embraced hockey as Trevor developed an interest in it. He involved himself with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts as his children joined those associations.
At a time in his life where things were finally going well and Marshall could have some “Marshall time” and some family time, his big heart failed him. After a valiant effort, Lisa bowed to a greater power and followed his wishes not to be kept alive at the cost of his dignity. His wish in death was the same as in his life – to help others so his organs were to be donated. His body was to be cremated.
Marshall left us far too soon in life, but we take comfort in the time he was with us and in his children as they grow up to be a credit to his memory and example. He was a quiet, kind and gentle hero to everyone he knew. Everyone he met loved him, from childhood friends, fellow servicemen and women, co-workers, neighbors and his Canadian family who welcomed him.
Marshall’s 40th birthday would have been May 2nd and his family felt this would be a fitting time to celebrate his life. This event will take place on the first weekend of May, after which Marshall’s ashes will be placed in the Memorial Wall at the Yellowstone National Cemetery, 55 Buffalo Trail Road, Laurel, MT, 59044. Friends are invited to join his family for the event, details of which are yet to be finalized.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to a charity of your choice or to Marshall’s childrens’ education funds.