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Marvin I. Oberman

March 20, 1938 — March 21, 2024

Charleston, South Carolina

Marvin I. Oberman

Marvin I. Oberman died peacefully on March 21, 2024, hours after his 86th birthday, following a lengthy illness. Beloved husband of Sandra Cohen Oberman, his childhood sweetheart and wife of more than 62 years; father of Harold Oberman, also his law partner, and Linda Oberman Prager; father-in-law of Adam Prager; and grandfather of Olivia and Josh Prager, he was known for his mischievous blue-eyed twinkle, razor-sharp wit, comical letters to the editor, and enviable head of hair.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Gladys Schlussel Oberman, and brothers Dr Harvey Oberman and Hershel Oberman. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Janet Livingstain, and niece and nephews.

Marvin was a graduate of the College of Charleston (1959) and University of South Carolina School of Law (1962).  A lawyer for six decades, Marvin ran a general civil practice that handles a wide range of cases─business, banking, real estate, family law, probate, technology and other areas of the law. He practiced in all courts, from the Magistrates Court to the Supreme Court.

Anyone who knew him was lucky to earn his go-to compliment: “You’re a gentleman/lady and a scholar.” That’s what Marvin admired most in others, and it’s how he lived his life. Marvin forged personal relationships with people from every walk of life. Friends and clients ranged from South Carolina’s most lauded industrialist, to dedicated tradesmen, to those most economically challenged. He viewed the law as indisputable justice for all. That led to an impressive barter system─he was known to accept as compensation for his legal counsel such things as jars of homemade pickles, house repairs, fresh oysters, collards or boat rides for his grandchildren. Among the professional roles for which Marvin was most proud was as the attorney for the Charleston Housing Authority. His legal guidance helped evolve the City’s safety net housing into a model for housing authorities nationwide. 

A gentleman who exuded the best of Southern Hospitality and fervently loved his lifelong home of Charleston, Marvin became a self-appointed tour guide to stray tourists. Over the years, countless foreign visitors made their way home with him as surprise dinner guests or beneficiaries of a loaner car; many maintained friendships with him for decades. 

The range of his law practice fed the insatiable intellectual curiosity that made Marvin a lifelong scholar. One day his case would hinge on the properties of flue gas desulfurization; the next day it was the angle of the sun at the time a sailboat mast encountered power lines. If he couldn’t make his case with science, Marvin’s legal philosophy was to “kill ’em with kindness.” He was both a Broad Street lawyer and Southern Gentleman who generously shared his passion and knowledge of the profession. If he encountered a newly practicing Charleston attorney, he would pull them into his office, befriend and mentor them. 

His personal life was no different. Marvin threw himself into physics, medicine, modern art, history, engineering, ornithology, horticulture and photography. He applied scientific rigor to everything, especially fishing, his biggest passion. He was a dedicated student of ocean currents and fishing holes, and he mapped hurricanes with pushpins long before emergence of the Weather Channel. After serving in the Air Force Reserve, Marvin remained a lifelong cataloger of cargo planes and other military aircraft. He also was a political junkie and successful campaign manager.

Marvin revered his older brother, who became a Charleston physician. This sparked Marvin’s deep interest in medicine. The clinical know-how he absorbed served him well in complex legal cases. It also garnered him enough expertise to find cutting-edge treatment to break the family cancer curse that befell both his wife and daughter at virtually the same time. 

Marvin’s passion for scholarship also fueled work with his hands and an ever-changing collection of hobbies. He was a self-taught dock builder, brick layer, sandcastle architect and boat mechanic. He took great pride in his beautiful rose garden, researching and growing award-winning cultivars. 

The family is grateful for the compassionate clinical care Marvin received from teams at MUSC, Roper Saint Francis and DaVita Charlestowne. For years, he’d judged his own health by the strength of his heart. That ultimately was not what failed him. Nor did it ever fail the countless people who benefitted from his unflagging generosity, humor, love and support. 

Marvin was laid to rest following a service for immediate family. Those who wish are encouraged to plant a tree in his memory. He planted many in his lifetime, ensuring that his Charleston roots and impact will forever run deep.

Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. Downtown Chapel.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marvin I. Oberman, please visit our flower store.

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