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Published: Wednesday, 5/21/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Benjamin F. Marsh; 1927-2014: Lucas Co. GOP chairman was a U.S. delegate

Marsh Marsh

Benjamin F. Marsh, 87, a lawyer and a longtime solicitor for Maumee who was a Lucas County Republican Party chairman, a congressional candidate, and a U.S. delegate on the world stage, died Monday at Bridge Hospice in Bowling Green.

He had a stroke in January, his wife, Mar-tha, said. The couple lived at Swan Creek Retirement Village in Toledo after decades on West Harrison Street in Maumee.

He remained active and visible — often in his signature bow tie — in retirement. He and his wife in November attended the 50th anniversary kickoff celebration for the Medical College of Ohio. He was an MCO trustee in the 1980s and was board chairman.

“He remained interested — very much so,” his wife said.

Because of his expertise in elections, the U.S. State Department asked him to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997, five years after he retired as Maumee solicitor, as the war-torn area prepared for municipal voting. He was on the Ohio Elections Commission and was a co-chairman in 2007 of a study committee on governance in Lucas County. Mr. Marsh called the work a “nudge” toward regionalism, at the time.

Mr. Marsh served about a year in 2010 and 2011 on the Lucas County Board of Elections, appointed by then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat. Ms. Brunner said that she was especially impressed by his demeanor — “evenhanded, reasonable, works well with others. He was just the person we were looking for at just the right time,” Ms. Brunner said.

Jon Stainbrook, the Lucas County Republican chairman, said, “He was a statesman’s statesman. He was such a class act.

“He was very gracious when I called him for advice on how I should handle matters,” Mr. Stainbrook said.

He was born April 30, 1927, to Alice and Lester Marsh and grew up on a Sylvania Township farm.

He was a 1945 graduate of the former Burnham High School in Sylvania and served in the Navy as World War II ended.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, where his interest in public service was influenced by the school’s president, Arthur Flemming, who later served in President Dwight Eisenhower’s cabinet and as chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Mr. Marsh worked for the Atomic Energy Commission while attending night classes at George Washington University law school.

After a stint with the Republican Party in Columbus, Mr. Marsh became a practicing attorney in the Toledo area and, in 1963, became Maumee solicitor after four years as assistant. He’d done legal work for local government since the mid-1950s.

“He was highly respected, a very steady person,” said Maumee Mayor Rich Carr, who was elected to council in 1989.

Mr. Marsh in 1968 unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Thomas Ludlow Ashley, the longtime Democratic incumbent. Mr. Marsh was chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party for a year in the early 1970s.

He was a U.S. representative to the 1972 general conference of UNESCO and announced U.S. support for measures to preserve world heritage sites, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Sphinx.

“I haven’t had more fun since I ran for Congress and thought I might win,” Mr. Marsh told The Blade afterward. He later served on the U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.

He was named Toledo’s Outstanding Young Man of 1962 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife were named outstanding citizens of Maumee in 2002. In 2011, he was named to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

Surviving are his wife, Martha, whom he married July 12, 1952; son, Sam; daughter, Libby Marsh; sister, Mary Ann Otto, and five grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3-7 p.m. Thursday in First Presbyterian Church, Maumee, where he was a member. Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in the church. Arrangements are by the Coyle Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church or Swan Creek Retirement Village.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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