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Marble’s restaurant owner dies, leaves legacy of serving good food to city

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Lee Marble, CEO and owner of Marble’s Southern Cookery, died Aug. 3 at the age of 85. (Photo provided by Brandon Buckley)

Lee Marble moved from Delta, Mississippi, to Indianapolis at 17 with a dream, and his oldest daughter, Sheila Buckner, remembers his determination to see it through.

“He came here with nothing and made himself into something,” she said. “He would wake up really early in the morning and make sure that food was the best that it could be.”

Marble, CEO and owner of Marble’s Southern Cookery, died Aug. 3 at the age of 85. He leaves behind a legacy of serving delicious food to Black people in Indianapolis.

Marble owned many businesses over the years, including a hamburger restaurant and a few grocery stores with different locations all around Indianapolis’ west side — serving the Haughville community, and in the ‘80s, the community along Indiana Avenue.

More: Memories at Marble’s

In 2017, Marble was diagnosed with Lewy bodies dementia, a type of dementia that leads to a progressive decline in thinking, reasoning and cognitive functioning, according to the Mayo Clinic. For Marble, dementia impacted his speech, making it hard for him to communicate with his family.

The progression of his condition was startling to watch for his grandson Brandon Buckley.

“Seeing my grandfather go from walking around and doing things to doing nothing was a crazy experience for me,” he said.

When the family could see the clear decline of Marble’s condition, they made the decision to close the restaurant and focus on spending time with him.

“It was very hard on the family, but he grew me more in the five years … that made me realize a lot of the skills I tucked away,” Vivian Brown, Marble’s youngest daughter, said.

Brown was his primary caretaker after his diagnosis, and she said they did everything together. They shared many intimate moments where they talked about the restaurant, his legacy, their relationship and her dreams. They had monthly spa days, where the two would get manicures and pedicures together.

Marble loved music. One of Buckley’s favorite memories with his grandfather was watching him dance and clap to songs by India Ari.

While the restaurant is closed, the family said they will decide after the funeral if they will open the restaurant again, but they said Marble’s legacy will live on.

“Marble’s is not done yet,” Brown said. “When Marble’s does come back, we will be bigger and better.”

There will be a visitation from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 19 at Crown Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery, 700 W. 38th St. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 20 at Crown Hill.

Contact religion reporter Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243 or by email abrianah@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. Herron is a Report for America corps member and writes about the role of Black churches in the community.

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