By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Rev. Ron Marshall has died at the age of 73.
His passing was confirmed by First Lutheran Church of West Seattle, where he had been pastor since 1979.
Rev. Marshall was much more than a minister. He was a community champion – especially for nonprofits, particularly the West Seattle Food Bank and the former West Seattle Helpline (which merged with WSFB last year). He was a longtime WSFB board member and even wrote a book about the food bank’s first 30 years.
That was not the only book Rev. Marshall authored – he also wrote books on the religious thought of Martin Luther and Søren Kierkegaard. In 2013, he led a celebration of the Kierkegaard bicentennial, commissioning a statue of the Danish theologian/philosopher:
In 2017, he led a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, for which the church commissioned a plaque of Martin Luther:
His eclectic interests also included the Koran, on which he taught a four-session class four times a year for nearly 20 years – transitioning it to Zoom when the pandemic hit. His weekly services for FLCWS were presented as written liturgies on the church website (we linked to them weekly on Sundays along with other churches’ pandemic-format services), and you can read his most-recent ones here. In the introduction on that page, Rev. Marshall noted that an online-video service “would be inconsistent with our mission statement and the honor it pays to historical liturgies (which require a congregation present). So the liturgies I provide are short, meditative in tone, and solitary.”
He himself was by no means solitary, being well-known and -loved throughout the West Seattle community. Local historian/journalist Clay Eals calls him “a giant.” Along with the West Seattle Food Bank, Rev. Marshall was also a longtime board member for Music Northwest, whose director is his wife, Dr. Jane Harty. When we hear from his family, we will add that here; Forest Lawn is handling arrangements and tells us there is no service date yet.