In Memoriam: M. Sheila Marshall

Sheila Marshall was a remarkable woman who lived a remarkable life in remarkable times. In fact, if there were any word that could be used to describe Sheila Marshall, it would be “Remarkable.”

Sheila came into this world on July 18th, 1929 to Austin and Ada Deane, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was born into a British family, but became imbued with Argentine culture. She spoke fluent Spanish throughout her life. Austin Deane was an engineer and a World War One veteran. Ada had been in the Women’s Auxiliaries during The War. Both were champion golfers, and the house was filled with their trophies. This culture of accomplishment obviously had an effect on Sheila’s life, and she lived her life as a demonstration of what can be accomplished through persistence, education and focus.

Just before World War Two, Sheila had been visiting England, and returned to Argentina at the start of hostilities with Nazi Germany. She had a story about how they got back to Buenos Aires just as the infamous German warship the Admiral Graf Spee began sinking ships off the South American coast. She told us a story about how Buenos Aires was filled with German sailors after the Graf Spee was scuttled. Remarkable Times.

After the war, Sheila returned to England and attended Moreton Hall Girls Boarding School from 1945-1946. Upon receiving her diploma from Moreton, she moved to New York, and attended Barnard College for her undergraduate degree. She originally wanted to be a diplomat, but became fascinated by Geology after hearing Ralph J. Holmes, a visiting scholar from Columbia. She considered Columbia to be one of the finest geology schools in the world, and insisted on attending Columbia for her postgraduate education. In 1951, she graduated Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Geology.

Sheila considered her time in New York to be some of the happiest days of her life. She roomed with her dearest friend, a gorgeous Czechoslovakian socialite named Desa Pavlu. The two of them must have left a trail of broken hearts throughout Manhattan. Sheila had a proposal of marriage from a young man named Arthur Gilkey. She declined, and shortly thereafter, he perished while ascending K2. Sheila was also courted by a chap named Vladimir “Vlado” Fabry. Vlado died with Dag Hammerskold in The Congo. It seems that Vlado may have been connected with the CIA. Sheila said she could never see herself marrying Vlado because he had a “very round bottom.”

After completing her education, Sheila entered the intensely male-dominated world of Geology. She joined the Texasgulf company because they offered her a position as a field geologist, instead of putting her into a clerical position. Remarkable Woman.

She returned to England, and was introduced by her former Moreton Hall headmistress to a handsome young American gentleman named Randolph “Mike” Marshall. They married in 1961, and remained married for 39 years. During the time they were married, they had quite a life. Mike was a CIA operative, and they lived in Nigeria, where he had been tasked to observe communist activity. He left the CIA in 1967, but she kept his secret until the late 1990s. Her family had no idea. During her marriage, she lived in Nigeria, Morocco, Uganda, London, Washington DC and Bethesda before finally settling in Rockville. Sheila worked almost ten years for the National Science Teachers Association. Education was tremendously important to Sheila. During that time she made many friends and had numerous accomplishments.

Sheila fell in love with Rockville, and became very involved with arts and science promotions. She was a founding member of both the Rockville Arts Place and the Rockville Consortium for Science. Rockville Science Day was one of the most important events in her later years, and we would hear a constant stream of information about it.

Just before her passing, Sheila enjoyed a big accomplishment. She had been spearheading an effort to create a Rockville Science Center, and the Center was approved on March 27th, 2006. This was the culmination of 18 years of work, of which Sheila was very proud. As with everything else in her life, she never even questioned whether or not it was possible. She just set forth and did it. “Impossible” was not a word in Sheila’s vocabulary. Remarkable Life.

Sheila leaves behind two sons and one granddaughter from her marriage with Mike, and Mike's three children and four grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name should be made to the Rockville Consortium for Science ( c/o David F. McGinnis Jr., 17 Fairwood Ct., Rockville, MD 20850 (301) 251-8744