There are three things I remember about Marvin Marsh: His smile, his bearing, and his handshake. I’d rank it as the best handshake ever, and that’s saying something, since Ernie Barrett is in the same town.

Mr. Marsh, who died last Thursday, was the longtime principal of Manhattan Junior High and Manhattan Middle School. I say “longtime” because he was there from 1971 to 1995, long enough that he sort of personified the entire middle school establishment.

Middle school is, of course, an extremely awkward and difficult time for kids. I was pretty lucky, I suppose, but it was nonetheless a very nervous time.

Mr. Marsh made everything OK.

He did it with the smile and the bearing. You just always felt that he was friendly, and he was on your side, and he liked you. You also knew, and this is what I mean by “bearing,” that he was in charge. He didn’t have to yell or glower or jump around -- he just carried himself with an air of confident authority.

The combination of those things was somehow extremely comforting to me, and I think, based on conversations with lots of people of my generation, to everyone. Mr. Marsh knew what he was doing, and he would make sure that things would work out for the best.

Then, the handshake. He had a deep voice, with a bit of an Oklahoma drawl, and a solid physique, and the hands of a guy who could split wood all day with an axe. When he shook your hand, man, it felt like you might never get away.

As I say, Ernie Barrett has a handshake famous enough that they’ve made a statue out of it in front of Bramlage Coliseum. It’s world-class; you’ve got to get yourself ready for the assault, or you’ll buckle.

Mr. Marsh’s was similarly strong, but it had a different vibe. It was, like everything about him, somehow reassuring. And, at a certain time of life for a generation of kids in Manhattan, that made an enormous difference.

He’s gone now, but that handshake, and that smile, and that bearing, will live on.