Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
This phrase and this verse were important words in the life of David Marshall, but they were not ideals that he easily achieved. When he preached and exhorted others to relax…trust…and lean…he was preaching to himself as much as to anyone else.
David was born on October 13, 1925, 3-1/2 months after his father was killed in a train-automobile accident. His mother found solace in the Psalms, and thus chose the name David for her newborn son. Four years later, the Great Depression took away most of their financial security and a year later, his 12-year old brother died suddenly from a concussion. When David was 13, his mother went to Michigan for a weekend and came home married to an family friend, without ever discussing it or warning young David. Eventually they moved to Coldwater and then on to Detroit. David graduated from high school in Detroit and joined the Navy in 1943. He spent his entire Navy career in college, studying mechanical engineering, allowing him to be the first in his family to graduate from college, certainly a provision of the Lord. His step-father also died suddenly during these years.
In 1947, he married Eldora Freeberg on the hottest day of the year. They settled into a home in Chicago and David completed a second degree in Business Administration while working at Marshall Fields as an efficiency engineer. David and Larry joined their family during those years. In 1952, David responded to an ad in Interest magazine to become an engineer at Wisconsin Wire Works in Appleton, working for an entrepreneur and inventor. While David and Eldora enjoyed living in Appleton, David did not particularly enjoy his job. In 1953 they moved back to the Chicago area, began working for Ford Motor Company, and added Chris to their family.
In 1956, they were transferred to Detroit and settled into a home in Redford, and into the fellowship of Dunning Park Chapel, their church home for nearly 60 years. They participated in the ministries of the chapel, enjoyed the fellowship of other young couples and attended faithfully.
But David was focused on his career at Ford. It wasn’t until the early 70s that David’s faith started to deepen. He attended the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts and began a spiritual journey that was disciplined and ardent. He began reading the book of Proverbs daily and continued that habit for 40 years. He also mentored young men and encouraged many in their faith. He participated in the leadership of Dunning Park for several years. David always had a heart for the fatherless, for widows, and for the aged. With Eldora, he invited many people into his home and found thoughtful ways of reaching out to others.
He and Eldora welcomed new family members when all three children married within a span of 8 months in 1976-77: Joann, John and Connie.
Grandchildren arrived and were welcomed with great joy:
Bill, Matt, Katie, Brian, John, Laura, Brad, Mike, Lizi, and Anne.
David and Eldora invested in the lives of these grandchildren with their time, their energy, their love, and with their finances. He paid for CIT at Bair Lake and put aside enough money to pay for a year of Bible school when each one graduated from high school. David and Eldora babysat, cheered at sporting events, and prayed faithfully for these grandchildren. Everyone in the family knew that he would pay for a new Bible whenever one was needed and in recent years he funded the photography of his great grandchildren. He also supplied them with a steady stream of cereal, laundry soap and whatever else his coupons could buy. For the Chicago family, a visit from Gramma and Grampa always came with a boatload of groceries!
David retired in 1984 and had a heart attack six months later. This further re-ordered his priorities and his outlook in life. He started to look forward to heaven, even then. They spent their retirement years serving their family, their church, and both Bair Lake and Upper Peninsula Bible camps. SWATT became a semi-annual commitment and continued for many years.
They also enjoyed being part of their grandchildren’s graduations and weddings. With joy they welcomed new adult grandchildren into the family circle: Andy, Amy, Taylor, Amy, Kate, Melissa and James.
The arrival of great-grandchildren was even more joyful: Emily, Megan, Liam, Farrah, Brooke, Grace, Kelley, Ellie and Oaks (with three more on the way.)
David’s Type A personality served him well in the business world, but left some rough edges in his relationships both at home and church and for his health. He had a big heart and truly cared about people, but he sometimes had a heavy hand in his style of encouragement. (We’re pretty sure nearly every one in this room has been offended at one time or another. Sorry 🙂
David followed the Lord with his whole heart, but that heart at times was anxious, controlling and often impatient. As he struggled with this, he adopted the mantra, “Relax, God is in Control.” As he and Eldora grew older, as he faced trials in the lives of his family, when his wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and his daughter with breast cancer, he struggled to trust. He was honest about his struggles to trust God, sometimes with disarming transparency and vulnerability. His heart grew soft and pliable. He grew in grace towards those around him and in faith and gratitude for his Lord and Savior. He longed to go home to heaven, but trusted God for “every step of the way” on his journey.
He has now completed his journey and is at rest with his Lord and Savior. What a reunion he faces as he meets his father for the very first time, along with family that has gone on before him, including Eldora his wife and companion of 67 years, who preceded him to heaven just a year ago. We’re pretty sure, though, that he is not gazing at glory or even at these family members, but at his “king of grace”… there in Immanuel’s Land.
His great desire is that each one sitting here will join him in heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, and that—in the meantime—you will trust the goodness and love of God and relax
—because God really is in control.