MARSH, Reverend Dr. Robert Wilson, 82, of California, Maryland, a lifelong Presbyterian minister, chaplain and musician, died on December 4, 2012, at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.
Born on March 13, 1930, in Holiday's Cove (now part of the city of Weirton), West Virginia, he was the son of the late George Harlan and Martha Wilson Marsh.
Graduating from Weir High School in 1948, he was the first in his family to attend college, working many hours at the Weirton Steel Corporation to fund his education. He graduated cum laude from Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts double major in History and Politics.
Raised a Presbyterian, he then began to prepare for his life's work, realizing his calling to the ministry driven by his strong faith, keen interest in theology, and innate desire to do good for humanity. He subsequently earned three advanced degrees in support thereof. First a Master's of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary (now called Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1956. Then, while serving as an ordained minister, he attended Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where he received a Master's of Theology in 1963 and Doctorate in Ministry in 1973. From 1966 to 1967, he studied French and The Reformation at the Universite' de Neuchatel, Switzerland. During this special year, he met his future wife, Sigrun Marlis, in West Berlin while traveling throughout Europe.
Dr. Marsh proudly and passionately served as a pastor for more than 50 years. Ordained in 1956, he began his career in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, thereafter also serving congregations in Texas, Maryland, Louisiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
While at his second pastorate in Ft. Worth, Texas, Dr. Marsh attended a prayer breakfast with local clergy at the Hotel Texas with President John and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, just a few hours before his assassination in Dallas. His longest pastorate was at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Mary's County (now called Patuxent Presbyterian), where he served from 1977 until his retirement in 1995. During his time in Maryland, Dr. Marsh, an avid musican, pianist, and hymn-writer, who loved to lead the congregation in song, launched an annual community music series at the church, bringing prominent musicians and choral groups to St. Mary's County, including the U.S. Army Chorus and U.S. Navy Sea Chanters. Most notably, he was the visionary, inspiration, and force behind the relocation of the church from its original site in Town Creek to a much more visible and accessible location on MD Route 4 between Three Notch Road and the Thomas Johnson (a.k.a. Solomons) bridge connecting St. Mary's and Calvert Counties. After much research and review, he led the relocation team in their selection of an esteemed architect who created the beautiful, open-air design. Dr. Marsh boldy and successfully led the congregation in this endeavor, despite its controversial nature, and the church continues to thrive and grow today. Following retirement, Dr. Marsh continued to work as an Interim Minister, guiding a number of churches including St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Leesville, LA, Longs Run Church in Calcutta, OH, First Presbyterian Church in St. Clairsville, OH, First Westminster Presbyterian Church in Steubenville, OH, Hill Top Presbyterian Church in Toronto, OH, as well as his home church, Cove Presbyterian, in Weirton, WV, during the selection process and smooth transition between permanent ministers. Dr. Marsh was thrilled to have the opportunity to "go home" for over 10 years to the Upper Ohio Valley region he loved to continue serving as a seasoned minister in this important capacity.
Dr. Marsh was a Chaplain in the Army Reserve and the Texas and Maryland Army National Guards for 30 years, retiring in 1990 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was called up to active duty by President Kennedy in 1961, during the Berlin Crisis and served as a Chaplain for the 49th Armored Division at Fort Polk, Louisiana. His commitment to serve his country and fellow soldiers was something of which he was very proud.
Dr. Marsh was a longtime Rotarian, active in a number of clubs where he resided, including Lexington Park where he was named a Paul Harris Fellow. He served on the Boards of St. Mary's Hospice and the Pastoral Counseling Center. As a hymn-writer, he authored more than 20, with a number of them published in religious periodicals. He also enjoyed poetry and civil war history.
He was an amateur genealogist and traced the earliest Marsh settler to colonial America, his great, great, great, great grandfather, Thomas Marsh, who settled in Baltimore County in the mid-1700s and whose beautiful stone residence, the Eagles Nest, still stands today and which he visited on a number of occasions. He also confirmed the participation of several family members in multiple Civil War battles. As well, he was consistently involved in and/or led the Marsh- Atkinson family reunion, which met annually for over 100 years.
He is survived by his wife, Sigrun Marlis Marsh of California, Maryland, two children, Kirsten E. Marsh of New York, New York, Bruce R. Marsh (Paola Piscioneri) of Alexandria, Virginia, and a grandson, Rowan W. Marsh.
The family will hold a visitation from 2-5 p.m. at the Brinsfield Funeral Home, 22955 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown, MD 20650 on Sunday, December 9, 2012. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. at the Patuxent Presbyterian Church, 23421 Kingston Creek Road, California, MD 20619 on Monday, December 10, 2012. The service will be conducted by Pastor Mike Jones.
An interment service with military honors will be held at the New Cumberland Cemetery in New Cumberland, West Virginia on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that contributions be made either to the Music Ministry of the Patuxent Presbyterian Church, Attn: Dr. Robert W. Marsh Memorial Music Fund, 23421 Kingston Creek Road, California, Maryland, 20619, or the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, "In Memory of Robert Wilson Marsh," 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, New York, 10018.
Condolences to the family may be made at www.brinsfieldfuneral.com.
Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown, MD