John Kenner Marlow

John Kenner Marlow

March 28, 1939 to February 4, 2024

John Kenner Marlow, 84, of Front Royal, Virginia passed away peacefully on February 4, 2024, at Winchester Medical Center surrounded by family.

John was born to Guy and Esther Marlow on March 28, 1939 in Washington, DC.

He spent his first years in Silver Spring, MD living in a house his father built. At a very young age, John and his family moved to Front Royal where his father was contracted by the government to build houses during the war.  The family believed the move would be temporary, but ultimately, the family grew deep roots in the Shenandoah Valley.

John graduated from Warren County High School where he was a celebrated athlete. He played on Warren County’s only undefeated and untied football team, held the high scoring record for the Warren County basketball team for decades, and was a district champion in the discus.

He attended the University of Virginia on a football scholarship. At UVA, he was the co-captain of the football team, lettered three times in track, and played freshman basketball.  John graduated from the UVA McIntyre School of Commerce. He was the President of the V-Club, was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and was a member of the Lawn Society at the University of Virginia.

John returned home to Front Royal in 1964 after spending two years stationed in Germany as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Upon his return, he built several apartment buildings and bought Marlow Motor Company from his father. He later purchased Tri-State Nissan in Winchester and Marlow Ford in Luray and continued building homes and developing real estate in the area.

John believed that he lived in the most beautiful area in the country, and that he had a duty to serve his community. In 1968, he was one of the first Republicans elected to office in Warren County since the Reconstruction. He served 14 years in the Warren County Board of Supervisors and was a founding director of the Lord Fairfax Planning District Commission.

John was a visionary Mayor of Front Royal from 1982 to 1990, during which time Front Royal’s Main Street was redeveloped, including the design and construction of the Gazebo in Downtown and the renovation of the former Train Station into a Visitors’ Center. He was the initial visionary and a founder of the Warren County Educational Endowment, which through the years has provided nearly a million dollars in grants for the benefit of Warren County students. In all that he did in the community, he was guided by the simple question: “Is it good for Front Royal?”.

He was a founding director of Peoples Bank of Front Royal, a director at Jefferson Bank, and a director of First Bank. He served as a director of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and was a chair of the Board of Trustees at Shenandoah University. He is a lifetime member of the First Baptist Church of Front Royal.

When asked, John will confidently say that the best decision he ever made was to marry the love of his life, Joyce Allison Marlow. They shared 58 legendary years together, and those that knew them understood that theirs was an epic love story.

John is survived by his wife, Joyce; siblings, Joanna Driggs (husband John), Mary Elizabeth Marlow, and James Marlow; daughters, Jessica Marlow, Emily Marlow Beck (husband Andrew), Debbie Dunn, and Jeania Aylor (husband Rob); grandchildren, Olin, Marshall, and Margaret Beck, Amy Yates Watts (husband James) and Evan Bender; and four great-granddaughters.  He was a proud “Uncle John” to several beloved nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.


The family will receive friends at Maddox Funeral Home in Front Royal on Thursday, February 15 from 6:00-8:00 pm. A memorial service in celebration of John’s life will be held Friday, February 16 at 11:00 am at Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal with the Rev. Dr. Christy McMillin-Goodwin officiating. A reception will follow at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Inurnment will be private.


Honorary pallbearers are John’s fraternity brothers from the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the following funds: The Warren County Educational Endowment, P.O. Box 1314, Front Royal, VA  22630 or Rotary Club of Front Royal, John Marlow and Heidi Moore Student Athlete Scholarship, c/o Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, P.O. Box 2391, Winchester, VA 22604.




  13 comments for “John Kenner Marlow

  1. Barbara Beatty Rosenberry
    February 8, 2024 at 7:06 pm

    Joyce and family my thoughts, love, and prayers are with you all at this time. John was a dear friend. I have fond memories of our days at the ballpark. May God give you all comfort in the days and months ahead. Love you

  2. Tom Lynch
    February 8, 2024 at 8:32 pm

    Wonderful man with a generous spirit. He will be missed. Prayers abound friends.

  3. Brenda Barton
    February 8, 2024 at 9:33 pm

    Thoughts and prayers for Joyce and all the families ,he was truly loved.

  4. Debbie Beatty Goisse
    February 8, 2024 at 10:52 pm

    Sending love and prayers to Joyce and the entire family. Sure will miss him.

  5. Stacey and David Daugherty
    February 8, 2024 at 11:34 pm

    Mrs. Marlow, Emily and family. You all are in our thoughts and prayers. Mr.Marlow was a wonderful man. He will be missed by all.

  6. Sean Lancaster
    February 9, 2024 at 4:17 pm

    Mr. Marlow, was a true Virginia gentlemen. I am honored to have known him. God’s Speed Mr. Marlow.

  7. George & Ruth Ann Poe
    February 9, 2024 at 8:13 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers with each of you.

    George and Ruth Ann

  8. Jim Miller
    February 9, 2024 at 11:49 pm

    Joyce And Family
    Our prayers and thoughts are with you and yours during this time. John’s legacy will live on for all he has done for the Front Royal area.

    We R Diminished

    Jim and Alana Miller

  9. J.C Hidalgo
    February 12, 2024 at 5:45 pm

    Mrs Marlow, Emily and family

    My wife and I love your family very much and J.K.M was very warm and friendly with us. Our condolences from Costa Rica.

    Last night I dreamed about you all; We were at the wake paying our respects when Mr. J.K.M asked me to bring him 3 bags of ice, each containing 3 kilograms, he told me he was occupying that at that moment, after I could see 1 of his grandchild’s, then I woke up from the dream. I share this because I know that your family, like mine, are believers in God and he speaks in our dreams.

    Before leaving our country to work in Winchester we prayed that we would meet good people on our way and you were, that’s why I know that it is not a coincidence that we met you.

    • Andrew Beck
      February 15, 2024 at 4:14 pm

      Hello Juan Carlos! Many thanks for your sharing about how our life-giving, and perpetually loving, God, met you in your dream. God is always with us, and closer than close. And even though we speak different languages, God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit, transcends all of our differences, and unites the unlike. This certainly seems to be a part of his plan. Thanks again for sharing, and for encouraging us, and reminding us, of the realness and goodness of God. Your friends, – The Becks/Marlows/Tri-State Nissan family

  10. Doug and Kathy Napier
    February 14, 2024 at 6:37 pm

    Joyce and family,
    John was a great man, and he has left a family that is also great. My words may not be able comfort you, but comfort can come from the memory of John and his wonderful life and legacy and the knowledge that John is now in Heaven with the Lord.

    God bless you.

  11. Debra J Siksay
    February 15, 2024 at 12:27 am

    Joyce, Emily & Jessica,

    My sympathies to you ladies as you mourn the loss of your husband and father. John was such a pillar of the community who will be missed, we are thankful that John called Front Royal home. May your wonderful memories give you peace and ease your pain.

  12. Lauren and Larry
    February 15, 2024 at 12:37 pm

    Joyce and Family. Sending you Love, Hugs and Prayers to All!

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