Marshall family

The family of the late Howard Ray Marshall, who passed away last month at age 63, gathered recently to tie a ribbon on the Christmas tree he donated to the county and planted on the Winchester Square in 1982. Standing under the special tree to honor his memory are family members, from left, Christenna Owens, Kaytlin Marshall, Joshua Majors, Shelah Marshall, Haley Majors, Cody Denton, Layne Dention, Tabitha Denton, Charles Bolin, Mary Jo Owens, Remington Owens, Kinsley Majors, Lumen Majors, Lily Denton, Howie Marshall, Mandy Marshall, Clayton Marshall, Liz Owens, Paige Majors, Ripley Majors, Steven Majors, Sawyer Majors and Todd Bolin. Not pictured are Peyton Majors, Robby Owens, Evan Morris, Ashley Morris, Asher Morris and Alyssa Owens.

Only a few in life will win a Nobel Prize or invent something that changes the world, but a local man has shown it doesn’t take that much to be an extraordinary person.

People passing by the Winchester Square may have likely noticed a pretty pine tree next to the courthouse that has served as Franklin County’s Christmas tree for the past few decades.

The Herald Chronicle dated Nov. 25, 1982, includes a photo of the tree as it was being planted.

At that time, the tree was approximately 20 feet tall. It towers today at more than double that height.

The tree was donated by Howard Ray Marshall, a modest family man known to many as a jack-of-all-trades, but to his large family, he is defined as “extraordinary.”

Sadly, Marshall passed away last month at 63.

As an acknowledgement to their beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather, the family asked county officials if they could tie a ribbon on the Christmas tree.

Marshall was born in Franklin County, on Feb. 20, 1957, to Earl Clayton and Betty Lou Marshall. While serving in the U.S. Air Force as a cable-splicing specialist, he met and married the love of his life, Shelah Kay Todd.

Well known throughout the county, the many hats Marshall wore during his lifetime included that of a farmer, school bus driver, teacher, minister, carpenter, plumber, mechanic and certified electrician. In fact, he could do pretty much anything anyone asked of him.

“He was capable of doing anything,” daughter Christenna Owens said. “If he wasn’t sure how to do something, he didn’t stop until he figured it out.”

Owens explained that, contrary to the old saying, her father was a jack-of-all-trades and actually mastered them.

“He never did anything unsatisfactorily,” she said. “And never hesitated to help anyone, never asking or worrying about payment.”

It seemed that Marshall had no limits when it came to learning new skills. The family saw that his persistence and patience were key to his successes.

“As an aging adult of 60, dad got a college degree in addition to his numerous certifications and licenses,” Owens said. 

Even so, his family feels certain his proudest accomplishments were his big family unit, which includes his wife, Shelah, five grown children, Christenna (Robby) Owens, Clayton (Mandy) Marshall, Elisabeth Owens, and Tabitha (Cody) Denton and the late Kattie Joe Watters, as well as 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Owen speaks for the entire family when she says, “Family was everything to him and he was everything to us.”

Passersby might have noticed Marshall’s proud family, which included the dog, gathering recently under the Christmas tree to take a family photo. It is their hope when people pass the tree this holiday season, they will think of the extraordinarily man who demonstrated that the ripple effects of small acts and values can be extraordinary.