Malcolm F. Marsh: A Judicial Philosophy of Kindness–Lifetime Service Award 2020


Judge Malcolm Marsh judicial portrait hangs in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse. A photo of his wife Shari hovers just above his right shoulder. Painting by Wayne Wang

Judge Marsh loves the law. He loves lawyers. And he loves God. But there was never anyone he loved as much as his late wife Shari. In his oral history, Marsh described their early relationship was one in which they were “unevenly yoked.” He explained that she was spiritual and calm while he was headstrong and quick-tempered. She was a calming influence and the strength of her faith convinced him to adopt a more spiritual and thoughtful approach to life. Over time, and with her seemingly infinite patience, he grew to share her faith, eventually evening out the yoke.

Their relationship was also endearing. He used to delight in walking over to the old Saks Fifth Avenue to pick out gifts for her – he had his own shopper and he refused my repeated entreaties to take me with him to help pick out her gifts. He also loved to walk down to Mrs. Fields and buy her one – just one – of her favorite cookies (white chocolate macadamia). She, in turn, would add little notes into his lunch bag.  We once had a working lunch and when I saw a note, I asked him about it. He clutched the note to his chest, telling me “it’s a love note from my bride – and no, you can’t see it!” They vacationed at the same condo in Maui every year and loved spending time together. As the product of a couple who had been married and divorced eight times between them, I marveled at their relationship. There really is such a thing as lasting love and devotion, and Malcolm and Shari Marsh embodied it. Shari passed away in 2009.

Shari Marsh at far right in 2006, with Randall Kester, Judge Robert E. Jones and Pearl Jones.

A True Son of Oregon

Malcolm F. Marsh was born in Portland in 1928 and moved with his family to McMinnville in 1935. From his mother’s side of the family, Marsh traces his Oregon ancestry to the early 1850s. On his mother’s paternal side, Marsh’s Stephenson grandparents arrived in Oregon from Vermont in the early 1850s via a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Stephenson Road, near Mountain Park, was the original site of George Stephenson’s hop farm. Marsh’s great-grandparents (the Roberts) sailed out of Boston Harbor in 1859 bound for Ponape Island in the South Pacific. They founded a Congregational church (which survives to this day), and later settled in The Dalles in 1868. Marsh’s grandmother Anna was born in The Dalles in 1869. Malcolm’s mother was born in a Victorian-style house that still stands in the Lair Hill neighborhood in Southwest Portland.

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