Edward Marshall (1938-2021)

After 4+ years of physical and mental decline, our dad passed away in his sleep on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. He was 83 years old. His relationship with his immediate family was sometimes complicated and painful, and we deeply mourn his absence in our lives.

Edward (Ed/Eddie) Marshall lived in San Leandro, CA his entire life. All of his grandparents (Machado/Reposa and Ferreira-Barreto/Freitas) were Portuguese immigrants. His parents endured and encouraged his love of animals, especially birds (his dad built him a backyard aviary), reptiles, amphibians and fish. At grandmas’ house, I often requested a lecture/tour of his specimens: some preserved in formaldehyde, some pinned, and some delicate skeletons. He was a passionate reader and had an extensive collection of antique books. After graduating from San Leandro High, he studied at Oakland City College for many years; he met his future wife in the OCC Library. He often recounted an epic road trip made in his 1958-1/2 Mercedes to the Yucatan Peninsula with his best friend Jim Kinkella. His varied employment history includes working at an exotic pet store, as a Coast Guard medic (stationed in AK), a night watchman at Montgomery Wards, a Finger Print Technician and Security Guard for the Alameda County Sherriff’s Department, and from 1972-1997 an Inspector for the Department of Consumer Affairs for the State of California.

I am his first born child, and I will always be Daddy’s little girl. He generously and enthusiastically taught me everything he knew, especially his passion for animals, nature, and science. Before I was five, I had a complete set of Golden Guides for reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals: I could recite the genus and species names of the birds in our yard. He treated my questions with respect, patiently answering each and every “but, why?” We did home science experiments, using the scientific method to observe the earth, sky, and air. The salamander he bought me when I was 10 is still alive today! When I moved to Michigan in 1996, I called him, frantic that a bat was swooping up and down the main staircase of the house I was housesitting. He expressed wonder that I had “the only flying mammal” right in my house – he suggested that we turn on all the lights and open the door so the bat would intuitively fly toward the dark, which it did, passing swarms of bugs migrating in the opposite direction. I’m sure he would have used that as another opportunity to observe nature.

Despite his Portuguese Catholic early life, our dad was confident and settled in his devout atheism; he fully accepted his place in the circle of life as “worm food.” I entered kindergarten knowing that I had no obligation to recite the pledge of allegiance because church and state were separate. He was a past member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Sierra Club, and often voted Green Party. He owned three guns and often wore a holster; I regret never agreeing to go with him to the shooting range.

Dad derived great joy from food, whether simple or gourmet, and strongly believed that most meals could be improved by putting a fried egg on top. He ate his meat rare and made the best steaks and burgers I’ve ever eaten (onion/garlic salt, Worcestershire, topped with grilled onions and mushrooms). Likely in response to his childhood, he never took a drink of alcohol or smoked a cigarette; likely in response to mine, I was a vegetarian for 20 years.

Though he rarely expressed it, he was extremely proud of his three children, Lizzie, Robert, and Brian. He kept our drawings in his work suitcase and brought us trinkets and tiny plastic containers of jelly from his travels. He sang all the time (the Bat Masterson theme song was my lullaby), and would play games with us and make silly faces on cue. He was sarcastic, quick witted and loved clever banter. Though we know he has eagerly joined the molecules of the universe, our hearts are heavy with the loss of his spirit in our lives. May we hold loving thoughts of him for as long as we exist on this planet.