Remembering John Duncan Marsh

John Duncan Marsh, age 89, passed away peacefully on Monday, Feb. 1, at Spring Arbor in Leesburg. He was born Oct. 6, 1931 to Edward Henry Marsh and Helen Hirst Marsh. 

He grew up in Brooklyn, NY and summered annually in Purcellville, visiting many generations of the Hirst family. In 1950, he and his family were drawn southward to Loudoun County by the magnetism of small-town life and open space. He made a permanent home, and lived a joyful life in Purcellville, establishing himself as an esteemed pillar of his community.

Growing up, Marsh attended Kent School in Connecticut. He went on to Washington and Lee University, which he often referred to as THE university of Virginia (to the frustration of two of his sons who actually went to UVA). His college experience was interrupted when he joined the US Air Force during the Korean conflict. He developed a profound appreciation for different cultures and worldviews as a result of this experience. 

After Korea, he returned to and graduated from his beloved W&L in the Class of ‘57. He held a number of professional roles in Personnel and Human Resources for Marriott, Navy Federal, and Computer Sciences Corp. He went on to become a Financial Consultant with Wheat First Securities.

Marsh discovered his greatest passion while volunteering in the Town of Purcellville, a town he dearly loved. Following in his grandfather’s and his mother’s footsteps, John served as a member of the Purcellville Town Council from 1986 to 1994 and as Mayor from 1994 to 2002. 

He spent many years volunteering with the Purcellville Business & Professional Association, Loudoun Historical Society, and served as Director of the Purcellville Preservation Association, respecting the past with an eye to the future.

He carried through with this dedication by restoring numerous centuries-old structures on his family’s Montcalm Farm, located just north of town, which garnered much of his focus and energy. 

Following his tenure in town politics, he remained involved with Virginia Regional Transit, helping to establish transit connections between western Loudoun and the greater Washington metropolitan area. He was a proud member of Rotary International, serving as president of the Leesburg Chapter and recipient of the Paul Harris award. 

Marsh treasured his friendships, which are too voluminous to list, and was always looking for ways to connect with people. He welcomed any excuse to lift his dog, Maverick, into the back of his white Jeep and head to downtown Purcellville, or the Round Hill Diner, to say hello to whomever he might encounter.

He was a brother to the late David H. Marsh; husband to the late Nancy Dickey Marsh; and father to Lea (Adam), Sue (Tom), David, Chris (Malinda) and Michael (Megan). He treasured time with his grandchildren Aryn, Christine, Zach, Alexandra, Abbey, Matt, Lexington, Jackson, Sean, Danny, Indra, Xavier, and Annabelle. He was immensely proud to be godfather to Ken and Katherine. 

He will be remembered warmly as a man who mixed a warm, inviting personality with an enduring sense of adventure. He will be greatly missed, but his spirit lives on, in all who loved him dearly.

Given the reality of current health risks, the family plans a celebration of his life later in 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Rotary Club of Leesburg, where he served and whom he trusted as worthy stewards to serve others.

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