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THE REAL GEORGE MARSHALL, AKA GRANDPA

 

george marshall

Grandpa Marshall in the middle.

George Marshall, George Warren Marshall, Grandpa Marshall, a ground breaker for the ages. He was a logger, a tree feller, of a different stripe.

 

Once I asked him, “What’s the difference between you and the rest of the loggers drunk and fighting in bars after work?”
“That’s not the sort of life to live,” he said. “This is dangerous work you need to be sharp to do.”

 

His life was one to follow, even more so in 2017.

 

George Warren Marshall, a 55-year resident of Bend, Oregon, and one-time Bend city commissioner, died in 1994. He was 83. George Marshall was born in a boxcar in Weeksville, Mont., to Lloyd Porter and Doyne (Cox) Marshall. At the time his parents were telegraphers for Great Northern Railroad.

 

John Steinbeck was his favorite author. I can see why a man born in a boxcar might like Steinbeck. A natural fit. Grandpa Marshall was a Steinbeck character, but I didn’t know it until I read the books in college. Talk about art reflecting life.

 

Later the family homesteaded in Northern Idaho and northeastern Washington where he attended grammar schools. He graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, Wash.

 

If there’s anything that defines America, it’s homesteading, striking out to new land and showing others how it’s done. It can’t be easy for any homesteaders. Ask any dedicated homeowner today about the work it takes to keep up. And they don’t start from scratch.

 

As a youth his mother taught him how to fall timber, a skill he used and taught to others throughout his life. He worked for Brooks-Scanlon in Bend for 36 years. He also taught timber-falling classes at Central Oregon Community College for many years.

 

This is key. How hard is it to respect women when your mother teaches you how to drop trees? That’s one tough mother with no hyperbole. A logging mom is true grit.

 

From 1943 to 1946 he served in the Army Air Force in the South Pacific as an airplane and engine mechanic. He also was designated as a mosquito control specialist and earned a citation for his work.

 

Imagine how hard it would be carrying the name George Marshall in WWII with General George Marshall running the war in Washington D.C. General Marshall was the boss of General Eisenhower and General MacArthur, the big guys. And there’s Sergeant Marshall riding a Harley on Pacific Islands monitoring bugs.

 

He attained his first-class Federal Communications Commission license in 1976. He enjoyed music, especially opera. He sang bass in choirs wherever he lived and also played the brass in various bands.

 

When have you heard of a logger who builds his own stereo system, plays horn, reads music, sings opera. I’ve never known anyone from anywhere in my life like that. His retirement dream was opening an electronics store. Grandma said no. He chose happy wife, happy life.

 

He had been a charter member of Local No.2 of the AFL-CIO, a member of the Masonic Order, Elks, Bend Golf Club, Toastmasters, Central Oregon Radio Amateurs, Sons of the American Revolution, American Forestry Association, Central Oregon Battering and Rape Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, Turtle Club, and National Hemlock Society. He had served one term as Bend city commissioner.

 

This was a civic minded man with a civic minded wife. His memberships and associations show the sort of social engagement that weaves a stronger community.

 

It didn’t start out that way. When his oldest son came out as gay in 1964 the word was he needed to stay in the closet. Instead, my uncle told his parents they could find him in San Francisco if they ever wanted him in their lives.

 

And they did, opening their home to those in need, supporting the local chapter of PFLAG. It turns out the old logger was one of the most progressive men when it would have been easier to just put things on cruise and relish retirement. But life didn’t ask that of him. How does this happen?

 

George Marshall was a 47-year member of the First Presbyterian Church of Bend where he served as a church school teacher, elder, deacon, choir member and in other capacities.

 

In 1942 he married Florence Elizabeth Turner Ragle in Dallas, Texas.

 

 
About David Gillaspie
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