Robert Dean Marshall died peacefully on September 20, 2023.
Judy Marshall had passed from cancer on July 14, and Bob declined quickly without the love of his life by his side.
Dad was born December 7, 1937 in Butler, MO. He was the son of Eudine and Charles Neas.
He is survived by his three children Dana (Craig) McKenney of Fort Scott; Darcy Marshall of Houston; and Dirk Marshall, also of Houston.
Bob is predeceased by his brother Jim Marshall of Hobbs, NM, but is survived by his sister-in-law Carolyn Marshall of Hobbs, NM and his brother-in-law Ray Woods of Independence, KS.
He had seven grandchildren: Reece McKenney, Drew Suddock, Neely Stuart, Kyle Moore, Cole Gaston, Parker McKenney (deceased), and Angie McKenney; and three great grandchildren Kieran Houlihan, Colin Houlihan, and Joyce Stuart.
He graduated from Warrensburg (MO) High School in 1956 and from the University of Kansas in 1960. He played four sports at KU: he was quarterback and captain of the football team; and centerfielder and captain of the baseball team; he also played freshman basketball with Wilt Chamberlain and was a sprinter on the track team. He was also a proud member of the
Sigma Nu fraternity.
His freshman basketball team soundly defeated the 4th-ranked varsity team in the preseason freshman-varsity game, although Wilt Chamberlain probably had a lot to do with that. Bob was captain of the KU baseball team as a senior. When they were playing one weekend at Iowa State, he rounded up all the players on their last day at the hotel to make sure everyone was ready to get on the bus and go to the stadium on time. When an elevator arrived to carry players downstairs, he made sure others got on the elevator and then waited for the next elevator to arrive. When he got down to the ground floor, the team bus had driven off without him. He took a cab to the ballpark and confronted the coach, who wasn’t interested in the fact that he had selflessly let others go on the elevator before him. So he hitchhiked to Des Moines, IA and joined up with the KU track team competing at the Drake Relays, with teammate and Olympian Billy Mills.
As a football player at KU, he suffered two major knee injuries. Later he coached several different youth football teams through the Johnson County (KS) YMCA, typically coaching a group of players from 5th through 9th grade. He always instructed players that, when returning punts, that they could catch the punt and attempt a return as long as they were not inside their own 10-yard-line. If they were within the 10-yard-line, they were to let the ball go and hope it rolled into the end zone for a touchback. In all the years he was coaching these teams, he also held the KU school record for longest punt return, at exactly 90 yards. The man practiced what he preached.
After graduating from KU, he attended the Naval Aviation Flight Training School in Pensacola FL and was assigned to the Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron VMF (AW) 122 – the Crusaders. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, American RF-8 reconnaissance planes photographed missiles sites in Cuba. He and his squadron of Crusaders flew F-8 fighter jets to escort the reconnaissance planes to Cuba. The Crusaders did not enter Cuban airspace; instead they waited offshore for the RF-8s to return; and escorted the reconnaissance planes back to Florida.
Later, during a training flight in the Philippines, his F-8 caught fire; he ejected moments before the plane exploded in a fireball, parachuting into the open ocean. His only apparent fear in life was sharks, as his squadron mates circling above claimed that he managed to inflate his rescue raft and climb aboard in world record time. He left active duty in 1965 but continued with the Marine Reserves until retiring as a full Colonel.
After leaving active duty in the Marine Corps, he flew commercially for Braniff International, rising to the level of Chief Pilot responsible for the Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Omaha pilots’ bases. After Braniff filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1982, he moved to Piedmont Airlines. US Airways purchased Piedmont, and he retired as a US Air captain in 1998 after 33 years of flying.
Bob then became a volunteer assistant football coach at Fort Scott Community College until 2003, when he was named the athletic director at FSCC. He served as A.D. of the college until 2008, when he ran for and was elected to the Kansas State Senate. He served in the Senate until 2012. He served on the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and was twice President of the Board. He also served on the boards of Mercy Hospital and the Kansas Food Bank – Independence, he also served on the Fort Scott Airport Advisory Board and helped organize the Fort Scott Airport Day & Air Show.
Judy and Bob were married for 64 years until her passing in July of this year. While she was a stay-at-home mother and he was flying all over the country as a pilot, he often let it be known that she was doing the more important work of raising the family. He was active coaching youth sports at the Johnson County YMCA; he was instrumental in raising funds to build the handball/racquetball courts at the YMCA; and he won multiple national championships as a masters handball player. He and Judyt loved riding horses; owning quarter horse racehorses; going to KU football and basketball games; visiting the Sigma Nu fraternity house (where his grandson Cole currently lives); and eating at the Nu Grille restaurant in downtown Fort Scott.
As with Mom’s death in July, the family would like to thank the Nu Grille staff for keeping Judy and Bob entertained and well-fed on an almost daily basis; and thank the caring staff of Gentiva Hospice of Pittsburg KS, with a special thank you to Danielle, who was with both at the end of their lives and helped them pass with grace and dignity. Special thanks to the wonderful nurses and staff at Presbyterian Village who were kind and loving and patient with Bob as he suffered so much after Judy’s passing. In honor of Bob’smemory, contributions may be sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital (501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105); or to the Fort Scott Community Foundation; to the University of Kansas Williams Fund; or to the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Scott, where they were members.
Bob’s memorial service will be at the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Scott on Thursday, September 28 at 11 am with visitation at 10 am. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Cheney Witt Funeral Chapel, and Pastor Christopher Eshelman from the First United Methodist Church will preside over the service.
At a later date Bob will be interred at the Fort Scott National Cemetery. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at cheneywitt.com