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Willoughby Marks Marshall

The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

Willoughby Marks Marshall, 96, who died Friday, June 19, 2020 in Apalachicola, was a native of the city which he loved.

He was born Sept. 16, 1923 to the late John Marshall, Jr., and Estelle Marks Marshall in the house in which he resided with his wife Marie and in which he died.

He leaves a brother, C. Travis Marshall, of Bethesda, Maryland, and was predeceased by his sister, Miriam Marshall Hemphill, in 2019. He is also survived by his wife, Marie Marshall, of Apalachicola, and four children, William L. Marshall (Nancy Shadick), of Newton, Massachusetts; Mary T. Marshall (John P. Puleo), of Boston, Massachusetts; John Travis Marshall (Whitney Deal Marshall), of Atlanta, Georgia; and James C. Marshall (Nancy Pak Marshall), of Scarborough, Maine, as well as five grandchildren and eight nieces and nephews. His brother-in-law and family, Lawrence and Mary Beth Quigley, also survive him.

A veteran of World War II, Willoughby Marshall is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor of fine arts in 1947 and a bachelor of architecture In 1949. His professional career as an architect began in the 1950s in Tallahassee, with Pearce Barrett, together forming the firm of Barrett and Marshall. During that time Marshall headed the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s comprehensive development plan committee. Barrett and Marshall also designed Sacred Heart Church in Franklin County’s Lanark Village.

In the early 1960s, he worked briefly with The Architects Collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts before founding the firm of Architect Willoughby Marshall there. During his more than two decades of architectural practice in Massachusetts, he designed both private and institutional buildings, with a focus on religious architecture. Following the Second Vatican Council, he designed renovations for several churches in the Boston Archdiocese, including the Catholic chapel at Brandeis University where he and Marie were married in 1967. His design of Saint Peter’s Church on Mount Desert Island, Maine, and the Newman Center for the University of Maine in Orono both received awards from the American Institute of Architect’s Guild for Religious Architecture. In 1977 he received the American Institute of Architects’ Honor Award for the renovation of the New Melleray Trappist Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa.

Often returning with his family for visits to his hometown of Apalachicola, he reflected upon what he had learned from Prof. Francis Kervick while an architecture student at Notre Dame. Kervick helped Marshall appreciate the ways, both simple and profound, that Apalachicola’s design history was tied to the nation as a whole: that its native cypress trees supplied lumber for the downspouts on stately 19th-century Boston brick townhouses; and that Apalachicola’s city’s plan was based on the City of Philadelphia’s urban plan. Marshall also valued Apalachicola’s primacy as a “working port” and seafood industry hub, historic and economic assets he hoped the city would continue to foster.

Together with his planning team of Paula V. Cortes, FSLA, and Edward G. Kelly, his insights for the historic preservation of Apalachicola were the subject of his firm’s 1974-75 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development award-winning study “Apalachicola: Economic Development Through Historic Preservation,” republished in 2009 as a continuing guide to the preservation of the city’s National Register Historic District. The study continues to serve as Apalachicola’s Historic Preservation Element for the State of Florida’s Comprehensive Plan.

A long-neglected feature of Apalachicola’s original city plan, Lafayette Park, provides city residents with stunning views of Apalachicola Bay. Marshall helped preserve and promote the park’s vital tie to the city’s extraordinary natural environment by securing grants from the State of Florida and the Alfred I. DuPont Foundation to complete the park’s 1992 renovation. Lafayette Park’s elegant gazebo continues to host weddings and concerts.

When the Historic Apalachicola Foundation acquired the 1845 Fry-Conter House, Marshall was retained to execute the home’s adaptive reuse and renovation as the Apalachicola Museum of Art (2006-16). The former museum, which received the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2008 Meritorious Achievement Award, now serves as the office and visitor center for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge.

Appreciating the confluence of the natural and built environment in Apalachicola, he combined his written and spoken advocacy for the preservation of both by heightening appreciation of Apalachicola‘s 1834 historic plan/plat, replete with its open spaces of parks and squares and public ways as it hugs the Apalachicola River and Bay.

His legacy to his children and family and friends is not just his “doing” but also his “being.” The relationships he formed in Apalachicola, whether with family or beloved friends, sustained him throughout his life. Always warm in manner with an irrepressible sense of humor, “gentleman” is the word frequently written and spoken by those who knew Willoughby. His children received an appreciation of beauty - whether from the sights they saw through his eyes, a trip up his beloved Apalachicola River, a later afternoon visit to the Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, or the flowers he would arrange for the dining table. To the end, he was optimistic and unfailingly grateful for the care and concern of his friends, his primary caregivers, Dr. Tom Curry, Richard Petch ARNP, Doris Carmichael ARNP, his family, and Dr. Nancy Chorba, medical director, and her team with Big Bend Hospice. The family is deeply appreciative for the many kindnesses extended to him, especially over the last several years.

Funeral services for the immediate family were private, due to the coronavirus crisis. A celebration of his life will be held in Apalachicola at a future date.

Memorial Designations in his honor may be directed to the following: Historic Apalachicola Plat Preservation Inc. (HAPPI), Post Office Box 965, Apalachicola, FL 32329; Bring Me A Book Franklin, Post Office Box 160, Apalachicola, FL 32329, or at; and the Congregation of Holy Cross US Province, Post Office Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765.