POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - A Poplar Bluff family finds peace knowing in the wake of tragedy, the legacy of a husband and father will live on.
"I just knew what he wanted. He was so giving and loving to everyone," said wife, Rachel Marler.
Gone but hardly forgotten. In fact, Bob Marler's family finds comfort and peace knowing the husband and father's light burns on.
"It should cause all of us to think about our plans," said Ken Marler, Bob's father.
Bob died in a tragic duck hunting accident on New Year's day. He was just 32. Authorities say a fellow hunter accidentally shot him in the shoulder and neck. In the wake of her sorrow his wife Rachel made a decision that's already proved life saving for others. She knew Bob wanted to be an organ donor because of a fateful conversation they'd had the year before.
"I know that that's what he wanted," said Rachel. "And since we are a younger couple, and for all people in general I want to encourage others to have that conversation because you don't think you'll get that phone call."
In fact, hours after Bob passed away they learned at least five people had already had their lives changed for the better.
"Bob's heart went to a 30-year-old man, his lungs went to a 28-year-old man," said father-in-law Robert Speer. "Many of the individuals were close to Bob's age and from the area in southeast Missouri or southern Illinois, Arkansas and Tennessee.
"It really makes me feel good to know even though he's not physically here he lives on through others," said Ken Marler.
Through organ donation, Bob Marler will change more than four dozen lives. It's an overwhelming realization for his family now passionate about educating others.
"Being in law enforcement I'm aware people are reluctant to donate organs because of lack of knowledge," said Speer. "Just because you sign your license those wishes often aren't fulfilled because family members fail to honor the request. You need to be educated and let others know what your wishes are."
Marler will also live on through his children. Clint is one year old, and daughter Riley is three. Their mother says she's proud to share their father's life and legacy with them. She says she knows Bob is smiling knowing what a difference he's made.
"He would definitely be proud," said Rachel.
Family members want to encourage others to learn the facts about organ donations. It's free and many more people are eligible than you might think.
Find out more about organ donation.
The Robert Marler memorial fund is in place at the first community bank in Poplar Bluff with funds going to his family.