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Marshall had a passion for technology

A passion for mathematics and technology spurred Marvin Marshall to become a systems analyst at Humble Oil and Refining Co., before using his skills at the Johnson Space Center and the Southwest Research Institute.

“He had an incurable curiosity for his work,” his son Mark Marshall said. “He enjoyed answering the unknown. He liked to be on the cutting edge of things and build things and see the end result.”

Marshall died Thursday of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 74.

While at Humble, Marshall earned a degree in mathematics.

Education was something he always held dear.

“He was an avid reader. He said if he could afford it, he'd just go to college full time and take a lot of courses,” his sister Jean Hahn said.

His upbringing also influenced his interest in higher education.

“He was the last of 11 children. He grew up dirt poor, and that made a big impression on his life,” his son said. “He planned so much to make sure he'd never have to go back to that.”

Marshall's intellectual curiosity led to a new career with Control Data Corp., where he worked with NASA as a programmer for lunar and command modules.

His next career change came in 1970, when he accepted a position at the Southwest Research Institute computer lab.

He worked his way up to director of the information technology center. His son said Marshall felt privileged to be a part of the company's technological advances, which awed him.

Marshall, whom his son referred to as a “walking calculator,” began having problems with his memory in 2000. Soon after, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's and retired.

“It was devastating for him, because it affected his memory, of all things. But he took it and fought the good fight,” Marshall said.

During his retirement, Marshall visited numerous Civil War battle sites across the South. His interest in the war stemmed from dabbling in genealogy and learning of his grandfather's wartime experiences.

“When he left the institute, they had to split his department into two departments. That kind of gives you an idea of the kind of tasks he could get done,” his son said. “He was a get-it-done kind of guy.”


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