Linda Neale's Blog

Memorial Service -- David B. Marshall 1926-2011

Linda Neale - Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here is the text of what I said at my stepfather's memorial service.  Thank you to everyone who asked for these words.  Click HERE to read a recent Oregonian article about this remarkable man.

Today I speak for my siblings – Marc, Michael, Sharon, and Marianne -- in honor of David, our stepfather.  In his autobiography he wrote, “I love Georgia’s children like they’re my own.” And we loved him.  And of course, he loved my mother, and for that I am eternally grateful.

David was a curious, generous, creative, kind, intelligent human being, who worked his entire life to protect God’s Creation.  He was passionate about understanding how nature works -- why and how birds migrate, what habitat is best for particular animals,  what effect human activity has on the rest of earth's creatures.  He recognized at a deep level how all of life is connected – that we  did not weave the web of life, but are merely strands in that web.  He understood that whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  And he fought unselfishly and with joy to help others understand this reality.  He called this science.  I call it love.

David didn’t talk about his spiritual feelings very often, but there’s a passage in his autobiography that says this:

Sometime around age 11,  “I began developing a deep feeling about the beauty of the earth, the birds, plants, etc. and their complicated relationships.  A deep spiritual feeling began to develop.  I listened to the great naturalist, William L. Finely, lecture about the plight of the California condor and questioned whether man had the right to cause animal and plant extinctions.  This was the beginning of my interest in saving endangered species.  I find now that entering an old growth forest brings tears to my eyes.  It is there that I feel close to God…”

David made it his Work, with a capital “W” to help preserve Creation.  It wasn’t just a job.  He did the little things that many of us do – put up bluebird boxes, led nature field trips, composted and gardened, and supported various environmental organizations, including his beloved Audubon Society.  But he also established wildlife refuges throughout Oregon, worked to protect endangered species from Washington DC, and edited the definitive source for Oregon ornithology, “Birds of Oregon”.  His work involved honor, joy, and struggle, and he did it with a kind of religious humility.  He did the very best he could. 

He was an example for us all.  Thank You, Creator, for bringing David into our lives.


Peter Wright commented on 11-Dec-2011 06:57 AM
A lovely sentiment for an obviously conscious, considerate being. The words ripple out and touch me deeply. Thank you.

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