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Obituary for Michael Ray Marshall


Michael (Mike) Ray Marshall, 78, of West Salem, left his mark on the world in many ways seen and unseen, with years of hard work and a generous heart. On July 16, 2020, those earthly deeds were rewarded with God’s Heavenly embrace. Mike was born to Ray and Virginia (Sorenson) Marshall on April 27, 1942, in Mankato, Minn. During high school, Mike met Marguerite “Marge” (Jones) and was immediately smitten, proclaiming to his mother after their first date, “I found the girl I’m going to marry!” And after a year and a half of dating, the couple did just that, exchanging vows on November 25, 1961 at Coon Valley Lutheran Church. Their love for each other continued to grow with the birth of three daughters: Heidi (Eric) Hesselberg, Holly (Mike) Smith, and Heather Marshall. In 58 years, Mike never let anyone doubt his love for Marge, often publicly commenting on her beauty whenever a chance arose, despite her dismay. Throughout their child-rearing years, Mike worked endless hours at multiple jobs so that Marge could be a stay at home mother, something both she and Mike valued. He’d go from construction work by day to making pizzas at Glen’s Bar by night. Marge jokingly called him “the first pizza king.” In 1975, Mike started Mike Marshall Construction, building custom homes, including many that were showcased in the Parade of Homes. Before construction started, Mike prayed over each home building project. He never stopped feeling honored to be part of making a family’s dream home a reality. That same year, Mike and Marge moved to the farm they built together and would call home for the next 45 years. There, they raised Quarter Horses and Angus cattle. Mike lived life to the fullest, enjoying everything from motorcycle racing with friends at Bill’s Cycle Inn, to working on the farm, to going out for Friday night fish. When possible, he liked to slow down and appreciate nature, taking in the views from his deck, cruising in the Porsche or ice fishing the simple way, with just his pole and a bucket to sit on. He enjoyed traveling, calling an Alaskan fishing trip with dear friends “the trip of a lifetime,” and he was his grandchildren’s biggest supporter. He was always cheering from the edge of his seat at grandsons Elliot, Evan, and Ean’s hockey games; beaming proudly from the rail at granddaughter Karley’s horse shows; talking cars, motorcycles or go-carts with grandson Cody; and watching and listening with clear enthusiasm at granddaughter Katlyn’s dance recitals and choir concerts. His family brought him obvious joy, his blue eyes twinkling brightly while he regaled anyone who would listen with stories of their most recent achievements. Mike fawned over his grandchildren and they him. To know Mike was to love him. He was never without a smile and always ready to strike up a conversation or extend a warm handshake. As the “holder of all knowledge” in the family, Mike was a caretaker in every definition of the word and genuinely wanted the best for everyone, whether long-time friends or new acquaintances. Humble through and through, his little acts of kindness and graciousness were often done silently. Mike was a man of steadfast faith. He and Marge are long-time, active members of Olivet Lutheran Church where he was honored to be a Deacon. With Marge holding his hand, he walked confidently through Heaven’s gates, where he was reunited with his parents; his brother, Bill Marshall; his nephew Bill Jr. Marshall and niece Stacy Marshall; and his mother-in-law Mel Jones. Mike’s family will miss his presence every day, as will his three beloved fur babies, Banjo, Candy, and Boo. Friends may call at a drive through visitation on Tuesday, Aug 4 from 4-8 p.m. at Olivet Lutheran Church. A private family service will be held on Wednesday, Aug 5 at 11 a.m. It will be publicly broadcast on FM 89.9 in the church parking lot. Memorials in honor of Mike may be made to Horse Sense for Special Riders and the Salvation Army. The family extends their deepest appreciation to the Gundersen Health System employees who were part of the excellent care Mike received. Jandt Fredrickson Funeral Home and Crematory, Jostad Chapel, West Salem, is assisting the family with arrangements. "Life is a shell that holds the rhythm of birth and captures the soul’s song in the depths of our minds. Only God knows the tune it plays."