Friends, colleagues: Jack Marshall ‘was Westminster’
Alumni & Friends News
A Fulton Sun Article
By KATHERINE CUMMINS
When John “Jack” Marshall received Westminster College’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2008, he said, “My life has revolved around Westminster for more than 50 years.”
That lifetime of contributions to the institution he had called home since graduating as a member of the Class of 1953 came to an end Sunday when Marshall died at the age of 79 after a long battle with lung cancer.
As friends and colleagues reminisced about Marshall Monday, his dedication to Westminster and to Fulton were brought up repeatedly.
“Jack was the embodiment of Westminster College,” said Donald Wood, current director of development — a position held by Marshall in the late ’70s. “If our mission statement could manifest itself in human form, it would be Jack Marshall. He was Westminster College.
“I would say his legacy is he showed all of us that being part of the Westminster family is a worthy, lifelong, noble cause.”
“He was Westminster through and through,” agreed Bruce Harris, president and CEO of The Callaway Bank, who first met Marshall when he was a student. “He was so committed to Westminster College.”
It was an assessment echoed again by longtime coworker Pat Kirby (currently assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement).
“Jack was simply loyal to Westminster. In many ways, Westminster was Jack’s wife or partner,” Kirby said. “I think Jack always had the college’s best interests at heart. He lived his life to represent Westminster in the best way he could, in whatever he was doing.”
Westminster College President Barney Forsythe agreed that Marshall’s “entire life was devoted to the college,” adding that he always was genuinely concerned about all members of the college’s family.
“He was very supportive of me and all the others at Westminster — he really encouraged us to do our best,” Forsythe said. “I think Westminster today has a lot to do with Jack Marshall’s contributions over decades.
“Jack lived the mission of service to the community every day, and his example will be missed.”
Marshall’s contributions to Westminster were many — including stints in a wide array of positions ranging from his start as an admissions counselor in 1955, dean of men, dean of admissions, assistant to the president, director and vice president for development, interim president in 1992 and serving as secretary to the board of trustees from 1985-95.
Forsythe said Marshall was “instrumental in making the Churchill Memorial a reality,” and Kirby noted that his constancy and dedication served as a rock for Westminster in years when leadership was rocky.
“Jack often had a work ethic that was much stronger than those to whom he reported — a lot harder than probably anybody at the college,” Kirby said. “Most people who knew Jack would tell you he was a workaholic, a loyal friend — particularly a loyal friend to Westminster — and really Fulton and Callaway County-oriented.”
Bruce Hackmann, director of the Fulton Area Development Corporation — who worked at Westminster under Marshall for 13 years — also brought up Marshall’s role in bringing some of the most notable speakers to appear at Westminster — including former U.S. president Ronald Reagan in 1990 and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1992.
“He was a master of detail and helped coordinate those events in a way no one else could,” Hackmann said.
Wood said Marshall was one of his mentors and described him as “one of the warmest, most genial people I’ve ever met.”
“I thought the world of Jack and respected him in every way,” Wood said. “He never met a stranger because he really did know everybody; and he didn’t just know of them, he made it a point to get to know them.”
Rob Havers, director of the National Churchill Museum, also recalled Marshall as “a terribly kind, terribly generous man about whom I’ve never heard a bad word said.”
“He was emblematic of everything Westminster aspires for its students to be,” Havers said. “He never seemed to be anybody other than Jack. There was no artifice in him; he was very genuine, very real, very honest.”
Outside of Westminster, Marshall was active in the Callaway Community as well, serving as a member of the Fulton Kiwanis Club, the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, the Callaway Arts Council, Habitat for Humanity, the Callaway Betterment Foundation and the Foundation for the Advancement of Fulton State Hospital.
“I think Jack was synonymous with Westminster — you’d be hard-pressed to find a more loved and respected person in the history of Westminster — but at the same time he recognized his role at the college demanded he be active and involved in this community,” Hackmann said. “I think that sometimes gets lost in the background. I — and, I know, many others — took advantage of his knowledge and experience with fundraising.
“Jack would never say no; he was always willing to lend a hand and help in any way he could. Fulton was his adopted home ... he would do anything for this community.”
Reprinted with permission from The Fulton Sun.