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Obituary: Marshall Scott Quackenbos

Beloved son, brother, friend, lifelong Claremonter

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

Marshall Scott Quackenbos, a lifelong Claremonter, died from pancreatic cancer on August 11 at the family home on Alma Court, with family and friends by his side. He was 57 years old.

Scott, as everyone knew him, was born June 2, 1965, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California. He graduated from Claremont High School in 1983.

In 1984, he backpacked across Europe for six weeks on the largesse of his parents Nick and Nancy’s graduation gift, staying at hostels and other informal locales. It would be an influential trip.

After Europe he attended Long Beach State University, where he took classes in architecture. The commute from Claremont proved too much though, so he enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona, a move that would color the rest of his life.

There he took a course in the school’s restaurant management major, and his lifelong affinity for all things culinary took root. He began cooking at Sneakers, a former restaurant/bar/music venue in Upland, where he helped design the menu.

In 1989 he enrolled in a 16-week course at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy.

His first post-graduate job was at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Beach. Following that he worked all over Claremont, at Harvard Square (now Bardot), the Blue Moon Café (now Tutti Mangia), and other area eateries. He was also employed at the Ritz Carlton in Corona del Mar, hotels in Huntington Beach and Pasadena, and in 1993, at a high-end restaurant in Seaside, Florida.

By 1995 he was back in California.

He had always been interested in computers, and about this time that hobby got serious. He took IT jobs at early internet service providers Earthlink and Ping before deciding to become a solo practitioner in 2002.

About this time Scott and his brother Stan started an informal catering company, “the honky sushi bar.” The brothers’ made “sloppy rolls,” as Stan put it, and worked for a few years at various Claremont nonprofit and private functions around town. It’s a memory that brings smiles to the family.

A family tradition — maybe obsession is more accurate — was off-road motorcycle racing. In his early years, the Quackenbos clan spent every Thanksgiving in the northernmost campsite in the San Felipe area of the Mexican Baja California desert.

“We got our turkey all done at Wolfe’s Market,” Scott’s mother Nancy said. “Bob Carson was the butcher there and he would have it all cut up. We’d take that down to Baja. Scott, when we started down there, he was five or six.”

Later, Scott looked back fondly on those desert camping days. His family though, remembers one aspect of those dusty trips to which he was adamantly opposed.

“He hated going into the outhouse,” Stan said with a laugh.

Father Nick was racing in those days, and Scott and Stan were his pit crew, and later, on checkpoint duty.

“Scott pitted for me, and for friends, and for others,” his father Nick said. “He later pitted for cars and motorcycles.”

The brothers later raced themselves, though not in the long, grueling races their father favored.

From then on, off-road camping trips throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico became a lifelong love for Scott.

“He didn’t stop until two years ago, when he was just too ill,” Stan said.

He enjoyed shooting, and collected and even built firearms, culminating with a heavily modified AR15 rifle he and his friends assembled.

Jerry “Jer bear” Tambe was a close friend of Scott’s in his later years. The pair took shooting and camping trips all over the West. Every year they camped along the Kern River, a trip Scott grew to love.

In January 2021 two rescue cats joined the Quackenbos household. One, a Himalayan, Artemis, attached herself to Scott. She slept in his room, wandered across his keyboard when he was typing, and would not leave his side, even when he was showering.

“And then, when he was gone, this cat went into mourning,” his mother Nancy said. “She did not eat. She wouldn’t get up in the window and look at the birds. She laid on her tree for a week-and-a-half after he passed. She laid on the bathmat in front of the shower, and of course, the shower doesn’t come on. There’s no Scott.”

He saved everything. “Oh God, yes. He was a hoarder,” his mother recalled. His first driver’s license test, from the early 1980s. About 40 pairs of jeans. All the toys of his childhood, some in their original packaging. Lord of the Rings action figures. Anything and everything, his family shared.

He read like crazy, a habit his brother admired.

“It was fun swapping books with Scott,” Stan said. Scott’s tastes leaned heavily into science fiction and fantasy. He had read all of Tolkien by the time he was in middle school.

Scott’s affinity for rock ‘n’ roll was also legend in the family. In the early 1980s he exposed his older brother to the new bands emerging out of the first wave of punk rock.

“That’s another thing he gave me,” Stan said. “I was locked into [former L.A. terrestrial rock radio station] KMET. That new wave was coming. He kind of forced me, ‘You got to give this a chance, man, you’re gonna like it.’ Without him, I would still be locked into KMET, listening to Led Zeppelin only. He gave me a wider world of music.”

He nourished a wide circle of friends, and according to brother Stan, mostly kept the groups — high school, music, computers, off-road campers, to name a few — separate.

“Except on Sunday,” his mother Nancy said, referencing the day prior to Scott’s death, when many of his friends came to say goodbye, “and there they all were. It was totally amazing.”

Another admirable quality of Scott’s was his insistence on staying friends with former love interests, his mother Nancy said. “The women in his life, every single one of them that I know today, love him dearly,” she said. “One of them is one of my very best friends.”

Scott was grateful for the care he received, and the friendships made, through City of Hope’s satellite location at San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland. Primary among those was Dr. Larry Wagman.

Dr. Timothy Donahue, at UCLA Medical Center, performed Scott’s “Whipple” procedure, which despite initial complications, was partially credited with extending his life for an astounding — for a pancreatic cancer diagnosis — six-plus years.

“He lived longer because of them,” Stan said.

In September 2021, Scott and his team agreed it was time to stop all treatment. They gave him four to six months at that point. He confounded that prognosis as well, living nearly another year.

“He survived one of the deadliest cancers for six years,” his mother Nancy said. “And his attitude through the whole thing never changed. He never once gave up.”

Stan was with Scott when he died at the family home.

“And he said, ‘Okay Stan this is it. Goodbye buddy.’ That was the last time he was really aware around me. We got to say goodbye to each other, which was really special for me,” Stan said, brushing away tears. “When he finally died, he was in my arms. I think he was aware I was with him.”

“I have to say, I’m just his mom, but I think he was a pretty awesome person,” Nancy said.

Scott donated his body to the UCLA Medical Center’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Scott Quackenbos is survived by his parents, Nick and Nancy Quackenbos; brother, Stan Quackenbos; stepmother, Carole Dorsey-Quackenbos; stepbrothers Mike and Matt Dorsey, their respective families, and a large circle of friends.

In lieu of flowers, Scott’s family asks that donations be made in his name to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at https://pancan.org.

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