Gertrude Parnell Marshall

MarshallGertrude Parnell Marshall, 104, on September 28, 2016, in Medford, N.J. Gertrude was born on August 3, 1912, in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa., to Eva Gertrude Magoun and Willis Jonas Parnell. She grew up in Philadelphia, graduated second in her class from Germantown High School in 1930, and went to Bryn Mawr College on a full scholarship, graduating magna cum laude in 1934 with a degree in mathematics. Exposed to Friends as a student at Bryn Mawr, she took a Bible study class led by Henry Cadbury that was a transformative experience. After her graduation she worked under Friend Francis Nicholson as an investment analyst in the former Provident Life and Trust Company.

When she married Wayne Marshall in 1943, she joined Haddonfield (N.J.) Meeting, where he was a member. In 1951 they moved to Ardmore, Pa., where they raised their two children. Gertrude led the First-day school program in Haverford (Pa.) Meeting and later served as clerk of the meeting. She was a delegate to the National Council of Churches in the 1950s–1970s, and served as a board member. She served on the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Religious Education Committee and worked on the Lighting Candles in the Dark anthology of stories for young people. Haverford Meeting appointed her to many terms in Representative Meeting in the 1950s–1980s, and she was clerk of that body in 1970–1975 and of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1981–1982. For American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), she was a member of the board and of the Finance, Retirement, and Nominating Committees. She also volunteered as AFSC interim director of personnel for a year.

She became a member of Medford (N.J.) Meeting in 1988 after she and Wayne moved from Ardmore to Medford Leas in 1987. She was clerk of Worship and Ministry Committee, active in adult religious education classes, and served as clerk of the meeting. Her vocal ministry, uttered with conviction, often included Bible passages recited from memory and a concern for issues of social justice and peace. She and Wayne were dedicated to visiting Friends in times of illness and trouble and to making newcomers feel welcome. Gertrude’s keen intelligence and wisdom gained from leadership roles in the Religious Society of Friends profoundly affected Medford Meeting, which trusted her as someone who listened closely, weighed an issue from various perspectives, and shone a light on the core dilemma. On many occasions, she was the one who summed up how the meeting was being led during difficult discussions in meeting for worship with attention to business. When she was no longer able to come to meeting, she participated regularly in the Medford Leas Worship Group, where Friends found her vocal ministry strong and present.

In 2012 Gertrude wrote to PNC Bank disapproving of their financing of mountaintop removal coal mining and relating it to her experience of the bank’s Quaker history as Provident Life and Trust. In the last week of her life, she voted in the 2016 presidential election, which she did by absentee ballot, recalling that she was eight years old when the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. She was fortunate to be alert and able to read Friends Journal and the daily New York Times until the last days of her life.

Gertrude leaves behind two children; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.