When my husband and I stopped to eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant tonight, (a restaurant Marvin Zindler frequents so often, the owners named a dish after him) I knew the Channel 13 live truck parked in the lot was not a good sign. During dinner, I felt a sense of dread because I had been planning to sit down and write Marvin Zindler a letter since the day I learned he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately that opportunity has passed; but I do hope this will help you understand my sincere gratitude for the man who has become an icon to this consumer reporter.
One of the first letters I received from a viewer when I started working at KPRC as a consumer investigative reporter was “cc’d” to Marvin Zindler, Wayne Dolcefino and me, Amy Davis. I still have that letter. Being a native Houstonian, I have great respect for Marvin and I felt extremely honored to be in his company, even it was only on paper.
My father died last July at 77-years-old. He was a consummate storyteller, not a broadcaster, like Marvin; but when I think of Marvin, I think of my dad.
He had several stories about Marvin, many of which I’ve always questioned the accuracy. You see, my dad’s stories were not the kind that could be featured on the news. He embellished his narratives so much, it was often difficult to sort fact from fiction. When he was younger, way before I was born, my dad was a reserve deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s Dept., where Marvin also worked. My dad said that someone called Marvin and claimed that Zindler’s clothing store was falsely advertising the price of its suits. The sign in the window said one price, but when customers went inside, they were charged a higher amount. Zindler’s, was owned and operated by Marvin Zindler’s family. But the way my dad told the story, that didn’t stop Marvin from going in and making a report, warning his own brother that if he didn’t honor the price on the sign, he would have him arrested!
I can’t remember not knowing who Marvin Zindler was. In the third grade, my class took a field trip to KTRK. I remember standing in a single file line, just inside the lobby of the station, when Marvin passed by on his way to a copy machine. A collective audible gasp silenced my otherwise giddy third grade class. One kid whispered just loud enough for our tour guide to hear, “There’s the man with the white hair!” Our guide smiled, and asked “Does anyone know the name of the man with the white hair?” The way I remember this scene, I was the only kid who knew it was Marvin Zindler.
Marvin did come out and greet our class with a big smile. That was the closest I ever came to actually meeting him; but his legacy will always influence me. I’ve always taken great pride in helping consumers, righting wrongs and speaking up for people who have no voice.
Today, with no Marvin to lead the way, I feel an even stronger responsibility to keep his cause alive and going strong, to never lose sight of the importance of helping those in need.