David Marshall 1939 - 2009

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

Nov. 25, 2009

Haldimand County has lost a paragon of excellence - a well-respected professional and family man who was invaluable to his community as a popular physician, judge, author and ultimately, a first-rate human being.

News of the death of David Marshall came as a shock to most people, including those who were closest to the 70-year-old in the days leading up to his passing last Friday.

Marshall was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October and succumbed to complications from surgery earlier this month.

He last spoke with The Regional News in September following his appointment as Colonel Commandant for the Medical and Dental Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces. At the time he appeared to be in good health and said that he didn't plan on slowing down any time soon. "They'll have to push me out the door," he said.

The three-year appointment as Colonel Commandant entails serving as a liaison between the military and Royal Family and is the highest honorary position in the Armed Forces.

Although Marshall had engaged in some correspondence, he was unable to fully embrace the role.

According to family members, he still had many plans.

His son David Jr. said his father intended to do more writing in addition to the books he already penned on law and medicine and the history of Haldimand County.

Justice Marshall is well-known to some people for his injunction order to remove native protesters from Douglas Creek Estates in 2006. He'd served as a Superior Court Judge in Ontario since 1994, but his outstanding life went far beyond the Cayuga Courthouse.

Thomas David Colbeck Haydon Marshall was born in Wainfleet on Feb. 23, 1939, to Albert Haydon and Ora Marshall. He and his sister Judith were raised in Dunnville.

Marshall attended Dunnville Secondary School. He was a high school cadet and president of the Boys' Athletic Society. He graduated from University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine in 1963.

In 1966 and for many years that followed, Marshall served as Coroner for the Province of Ontario while practicing as a doctor.

He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1970 and was called to the bar in 1972, completing his postgraduate studies at Keble College in Oxford, England.

Marshall spent more than 30 years as a member of the 23rd Hamilton Field Ambulance, travelling to military bases across Canada where he served in numerous capacities and participated in various exercises. He served as Commanding Officer and was later appointed Honorary Colonel.

Marshall said he always considered his military involvement "his contribution."

"I found it to be a great experience that was tremendously helpful to my career," he told The Regional News. "I had the opportunity to travel to places all over the world. I have lots of friends and it's been very rewarding."

Marshall served as a staff doctor with the Canadian Forces base in Baden Solingen, Germany and at a government hospital in the Northwest Territories and East Arctic, later providing regular onsite case to two remote native communities in the West Arctic and serving as a medical missionary doctor in Ecuador.

He served as Medical Officer for the Northern Command of the Canadian Army from 1982 - 1988 before becoming the founding director of the National Judicial Institute in Ottawa, providing educational course development for Canadian judges.

Marshall was the founding chairman on the Committee of Law Reform of the Northwest Territories where he served as Justice of the Supreme Court.

He was founding President of the Canadian College of Legal Medicine and chaired the Human Research Ethics Committee for the Medical Research Council of Canada, taking the lead on writing the Guidelines for Human Experimentation in Canada from 1982 - 1996.

From 1987 - 1992, Marshall was Special Advisor to the Surgeon General.

He was also a lecturer at numerous universities, giving speeches and presentations throughout Canada and the world.

However, Marshall loved the Grand River and believed that Haldimand County was the best place on earth to live.

He loved agriculture. Having come from a long line of farmers he was connected to the land, according to his children. For many years he raised cattle and chickens on his family farm and loved riding his horses.  

"He realized that to live here you had to be able to pick up a shovel," according to David Jr.

"Flying was a big part of his activity list as well."

Marshall attained his pilot license and was a director for the Hamilton Flying Clug.

He even dabbled in politics, running twice as a federal Liberal candidate in the local riding during the 1970s.

In 1982 he was named Honorary Chief of the Six Nations Indian Reserve.

He was also a past director for the Ontario Association of Injured Workmen and an Honorary Life Member of the Haldimand Association for the Mentally Handicapped.

Former police officer Warren Burger knew Marshall since he was a young doctor practicing in Cayuga. Together they worked for the betterment of the "Haldimand Association." now Community Living Haldimand.

"Of all the titles that he had, the one he valued the most was to say that you were his friend, and I think that's what I most appreciated about my relationship with him," Burger said.

"I speak on behalf of hundreds if not thousands of people that knew him, not only in his circle as a judge, but certainly his circles a man. I'm devastated to be honest with you. It's sudden and it's shocking and he's going to leave a huge void with his absence in community life."

"It's a great loss to the entire county," according to Mayor, Marie Trainer. "He was intelligent, accomplished, fair, principled, respected and loved by all. He could talk with anyone, anytime, anywhere. You could meet him at the Tim Hortons, on a sidewalk, at a yard sale. He was just part of our community and always had time to speak to someone."

Marshall equated "real pleasure" to "helping people."

Some of the people who come through the courts or a doctor's office are experiencing the most difficult time of their lives, he one said.

"Whoever comes in is usually in trouble. If I can be gentle and helpful, then it's an accomplishment."

Trainer recalled a time years ago when her eldest son became extremely ill at the age of two.

"My doctor was away so I just thought I'm going to try his office in Cayuga and he said 'Well, I'm not open, but I'm here doing some work, so bring him down.' He looked after him and took the time, and you don't forget those things. I've thought a lot of him ever since."

Above all else, Marshall was a husband and a father.

"He always put family first," said David Jr.

Marshall is survived by his wife Jill who he said "encouraged and enabled" him to do all the things he did.

Their five children are all successful with families of their own. Julia and Thomas are both medical doctors, Albert and David Jr. became lawyers and Jill is an accomplished writer who worked for the Hamilton Spectator.

An eleventh grandchild who's on the way will be named Thomas Haydon Marshall, after his grandfather.

Visitation for friends and family will take place today, Nov. 25 and tomorrow, Nov. 26 from noon until 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Ballard Minor Funeral Home, 315 Broad Street E in Dunnville.

A memorial service will be held this evening at 6 p.m. at St. John's Lodge.

The funeral service will be held on Friday, Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. at St. Paul's Anglican Church, 233 Lock St. We. Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery.