On Friday, January 29,2021, Eugene Marsh, passed away at age 71, a loving husband, brother of eleven brothers and sisters and foster brothers and sisters, and dear friend to many friends and colleagues. He was born on June 18,1949 in Lancaster, South Carolina and a long-time resident of Pennington, New Jersey with his wife, Elaine Walker, the love of his life, whom he married on August 19, 2000.
There are various characteristics that have been used to describe Eugene by the many people blessed enough to call him son, brother, husband, friend, colleague, student, classmate, or fellow veteran, such as: determined driven, ambitious, motivated, energetic, and resolved; but who he truly was, in his inner being and if you had the precious opportunity to hear him speak, was compassionate, kind, brave, loving, and patriotic.
The beginning of his extraordinary journey started in 1965, when Eugene became the first African American student to integrate into an all-white high school in Lancaster, South Carolina, which brought Americans face-to-face with the question of racial equality and the overturning of the "separate but equal" doctrine.
Thereafter, in 1967, Eugene served in the United States Army with a tour of duty in Vietnam. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division 2/17 Cavalry Unit as an infantryman and a radio operator. For his service and sacrifice, he was awarded three medals including the Distinguished Vietnam Medal, Army Commendation, and the Bronze Star Medal for Valor in combat.
Upon returning to civilian life, in 1998, Eugene started his own construction management firm, which in 2012, was selected by the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of the Interior, as the first African American firm to provide construction management services for the "upgrade and renovation" of the Statue of Liberty Project.
In pursuit of his lifelong dream, in 2014 Eugene received both his bachelors of
arts and then in 2018, earned a master's in Clinical Mental Health Counselling from Rider University. At the time of his passing, he was pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Rider University on the mental health disparity of veterans. Due to his many years of service, in 2018, Johnson &Johnson recognized and honored him with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award for his outstanding volunteerism and engagement in serving vulnerable populations.
A, part of his advocacy mind-set, Eugene served on many boards, including the New Jersey Supreme Court Ethics Committee, United Way of Greater Mercer County, and the Philadelphia (CHERP) Veterans Community Advisory Board. In December of 2019, he was appointed to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Central Institutional Review Board (C-IRB), responsible to improve the lives of Veterans by enhancing the quality of human research protection in VA multi-site research projects.
Eugene's passion in his faith in God was evidenced by his many service activities and leadership roles. He became a member of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in the mid-1980's after meeting members Ben and Deborah Colbert, with his decision to join influenced by the friendship extended by James and Gloria Fredericks. He revived the Men's Association, developed a remarkably successful Men Who Cook project, which raised several thousands of dollars for the Church, was a founding member of the Men's Chorus, and served on the User Board. Being a strong advocate of military veterans, for many years Eugene spearheaded the Church's annual Veteran's Day worship service. Several of Witherspoon's current members attribute their decision to join Witherspoon, in part, due to Eugene's warm and welcoming spirit.
After being ordained as a Ruling Elder, Eugene served on the Session (the governing body of the Church) for six years, chairing the Stewardship and the Personnel Committees, served as Lector (liturgist), while also performing as a soloist during worship services. He mentored young African American males in their faith development and served on the Pastor Nominating Committee for more than two years resulting in the calling of our current Pastor. In 1998, when the Church was being renovated, Eugene contributed many ideas and guidelines to the new construction, which ultimately proved to be solid architectural renovations. These are just some of the ways Eugene contributed to the mission, ministry, and fellowship of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church and will be fondly remembered for his great big hugs, but only after asking for permission first.
In addition to all his varied interests and causes, Eugene was intrigued by the history of African Americans in Princeton, a topic of one of his research papers for his master's degree at Rider University, in particular the Princeton Colored Cemetery. He took great pride in learning and writing about the noted African Americans who are resting in one designated area of the Princeton Cemetery. Whenever he gave a presentation, received an award, or sang a solo in church, he eagerly invited as many of his vast colleagues and friends to share in his joy: Eugene was proud of his many accomplishments, but always in humility, gave God the glory.
Viewing/Visitation will be on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at the Lighthouse Outreach Ministry,715 Bellevue Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08618 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM and a Funeral Service will be held from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, his wife asks for donations to be sent to Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, 124 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ 08542. If you would like to attend virtually or in-person, please contact Michelle Peal at firstname.lastname@example.org in advance. Eugene’s life: God, love, service.
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