Marvin Chauvin fulfilled his Michigan State college ambition with a television career of more than 50 years that began in Michigan and carried him to a job as chief executive of WLNY-TV on Long Island.
Chauvin, 77, died in retirement March 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he and his wife grew up and spent most of their family lives. His wife said recently that they both cherished their many years as a part of the Long Island community, and his role in guiding an independent local TV station from birth to its growth into regional importance.
"We didn't know anything about Long Island," Shirley Chauvin, his wife of 40 years, said. "All we knew was New York. But we loved it. We lived in Setauket. He could play golf almost 10 or 12 months out of the year, and we enjoyed the people."
After graduating from Michigan State in the 1950s, Chauvin worked for WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, in jobs that included cameraman, floor manager and director. "We met at the station," his wife said. "At the time I met him, he was program manager."
Chauvin served as chairman of the National Association of Television Program Executives in the 1970s. He was working at a Greenville, N.C., station in 1985 when he was offered the top position of the new independent station, WLIG-TV 55 in Melville, by its founding owner, Michael Pascucci. That station, which was sold to CBS about two years ago, would expand its programing scope and change its name to WLNY-TV during Chauvin's tenure, which ended about five years ago.
David Feinblatt served as the station's president and general manager in the 1990s and worked with Chauvin.
"When the station signed on, it ran a lot of black-and-white movies," Feinblatt said. "I guess you could say local programing, basic television programing that an independent would have."
During Chauvin's time it grew, largely through his connections with the TV association, Feinblatt said. The most popular syndicated programing of the times were added, such as "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Wheel of Fortune," "Jeopardy!" and other game shows, talk shows, sitcoms and local news, he said.
Eventually, the station was carried on cable television, which gave it a greater regional audience and, with it, greater importance.
"Marvin was very approachable, an old-school television guy," Feinblatt said. "He really liked to teach and inspire people, particularly younger reporters."
Feinblatt said, "He was well-known and well-respected throughout the television industry . . . I could sum up what everybody else would say, 'Just a man of high knowledge and high integrity.' "
A funeral Mass was said April 1 in St. Roberts of Newminster, a Roman Catholic church in Ada, Mich.
In addition to his wife, Chauvin is survived by daughters Michelle, Lynn and Lisa; sons Jim and Bob; stepsons Jim and Tom; brother Jerry; 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.