William Edward Marshall

Portrait of William Edward Marshall

April 19, 1925 – May 18, 2011

William Edward Marshall, 86, entered peacefully into eternal life May 18, 2011, at his home on Moonstone in Trinidad, Calif., in the loving arms of his beloved wife and creative partner of 34 years Loretta Slota Marshall and their children Marc William, Akemi, and Matthew Ryan. Internationally honored as a museum and historical association executive, designer, writer, and photographer, William E. Marshall’s life work enlightened and enriched the lives of countless millions of people.

The son of William Edward Marshall, Sr., and Louise Seymour White, William E. Marshall was born April 19, 1925, in St. Paul, but grew up and had his roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During World War II, he served as a radioman with the U.S. Marine Corps attached to the III Amphibious Signal Battalion in the South Pacific and was cited for valor and extremely meritorious service in support of military operations.

After the war, he married Ruth Marie Winner and earned a B.A. from the University of Montana, a B.F.A. from Wittenberg University in Ohio, and did his graduate work in art and design at Ohio State University, while nurturing their three children Michael Scott, Terry Lee, and Sharon and creatively using his talents for innovation and design in a gamut of enterprises. His landmark work with museums and historical programming changed the international paradigm for museum exhibition design and historical interpretation and preservation in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Inspiring generations of museum professionals, leaders, and people from every walk of life with his vision, imagination, jubilant spirit, wisdom, and ideals of excellence, William E. Marshall’s long, distinguished career in the museum and humanities field included being the museum graphic and exhibit designer for the sixty museums and sites of the Ohio Historical Society; Exhibit Designer and, subsequently, Executive Director for 17 years of the Colorado Historical Society (CHS), an arm of the Colorado Department of Higher Education; the first chairman of the Colorado Humanities Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Boards of Directors and leadership positions of the Rocky Mountain Center on the Environment, the American Association of Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, and many other historic and museum associations; producer and author of award-winning historic TV and film productions, programs, and publications; and visiting faculty and consultant to universities, museums and historical associations across the country.

The capstone of his administration of the Colorado Historical Society was the comprehensive planning and building of the new Colorado State Museum, the Colorado Heritage Center, dedicated November 5, 1977. The premier exhibitions were co-designed with his wife Loretta Slota Marshall, the CHS Curator of Exhibits. In 1967, Marshall and his future wife, Loretta Elaine Slota, began their professional association when she joined his staff as exhibit designer at the Colorado Historical Society that continued throughout their life together, and from the time of their marriage on November 6, 1976, in Denver, they job-shared their multi-faceted work as authors, exhibit designers, curators, museum and historic preservation and interpretation consultants, humanists, editors, faculty, mentors to gifted children, educators, small business owners, artists, and, most important to them, parents.

When their two sons Marc William and Matthew Ryan were born, Marshall took early retirement in order to be a “full-time family” and “to live happily ever after” with his “true love,” and he and Loretta were almost never apart from each other for the next 32 years.

In April 1985, Marshall moved his family from Denver to their home on Moonstone Heights in Trinidad to raise their sons in the idyllic environment where the redwoods meet the sea. Although the scale was more intimate, for the next 26 years he remained deeply involved in enriching and expanding educational horizons for his sons and others and environmental and historic research, preservation, and interpretation efforts, most notably of the greater Trinidad area, including the preservation of historic Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Trinidad, the development of the Trinidad Museum and the Westhaven Center for the Arts, and his own eloquent photographic and literary documentation of the experience of living on the Redwood Coast in the decades bracketing the millennium.

His artistic and photographic legacy includes “The Growing Up on Moonstone” series, which was showcased in two one-family art exhibitions in the 2000s, “The Marshalls 2000” in Trinidad and “The Marshalls of Moonstone, 2004” in Westhaven, and the more than 800 in W. E. Marshall’s own 1976 Centennial-Bicentennial project, a yearlong photographic record of life in Colorado preserved in the permanent collections of the Colorado Historical Society.

Often described as a Renaissance man, he encouraged those qualities in everyone close to him. He was always learning, teaching, and creatively supporting the whole-person educational efforts of others to the last moments of his life, both personally and professionally, from his earliest jobs in the 1940s at the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh and as a high school art teacher in Missoula, Montana, to his volunteer work with Northcoast environmental and cultural associations and the Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy for the last decade.

But no involvement compared to his extraordinary closeness and devotion to his wife Loretta and their sons Marc William and Matthew Ryan and to caring for their wellbeing and sharing their enthusiasms at every point in their lives. His tender care extended to his mother-in-law Erma Slota, who lived with them until her death in 2008, and to his daughter-in-law Akemi, whom he loved as a daughter since the 1990s.

Like his parents before him, W. E. Marshall was a Presbyterian and active, lifelong member of the Democratic Party committed to social justice, compassionate service, and stewardship. An artist and humanist of the deepest and widest tradition, he dedicated his life to bringing understanding, beauty, wonder, tenderness, grace, and joy to the worlds of the 20th and 21st centuries, but most especially to his family. His love for them and theirs for him knows no bounds.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 34 years, Loretta Slota Marshall; his three sons and their spouses, Michael Scott Marshall and Joanne Healy of Fairbanks, Alaska, Marc William Marshall and Akemi Fukazawa Marshall of Arcata, Calif., and Matthew Ryan Marshall of Trinidad, Calif., and Anna Lisa Marshall of Denver; his two daughters, Terry Lee Marshall of Lopez Island, Wash., and Sharon Marshall of Denver; his grandchildren, Zoe Marshall and Quinn Marshall of Fairbanks; his brother and his spouse, Peter Seymour Marshall and Bonnie Smith Marshall of State College, Penn.; his brother-in-law and his spouse, William Michael Slota and Patricia Eileen Slota of Montague, MI; his sisters-in-law, (Mrs. Robert J.) Mary Theresa Slota of Longmont, Colo., and (Mrs. James K.) Patricia Annette Slota of Parker, Ariz.; his first wife, Ruth Winner Marshall of Denver; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and their families.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William Edward Marshall and Louise Seymour Marshall; his sister, Patricia Louise Acheson; his parents-in-law Michael Slota and Erma Carosella Slota; and his brothers-in-law Robert James Slota, James Kenneth Slota, and Dr. Willard Phillips Acheson.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by the Reverend Michael W. Cloney at historic Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Trinidad, California, at four o’clock, Tuesday, May 24. His son Marc W. Marshall delivered the eulogy. Interment at the historic Trinidad Cemetery immediately followed with an honor guard from the U.S. Marine Corps playing Taps and his son Matthew R. Marshall playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. A reception for family and friends was hosted by Dr. Jean Heard Bazemore at her seaside home on Patrick’s Point Drive in Trinidad following the funeral services.

His pallbearers were Marc W. Marshall, Matthew R. Marshall, Donald E. Morris, Joseph T. Morrow, Michael W. Slota, and William M. Slota. His honorary pallbearers were Gerry E. Beck, Bernard J. Call, Dr. Ronald C. Chaney, James E. Hartmann, Dr. Daniel M. Ihara, Dr. Scott L. Holmes, George R. Keltner, Peter S. Marshall, Edward L. Morabito, Dr. Archie S. Mossman, and Michael L. Spock.

Contributions in his memory may be made for the preservation of historic Holy Trinity Catholic Church to the Holy Trinity Guild, c/o Nancy Sheen, P.O. Box 1242, Trinidad, CA 95570.

Published in The McKinleyville Press, 15 June 2011, pp. 8-9

Loretta and William Marshall together in a garden