Obituary: Charles Marsh
Charles Seabrook Marsh, 93, died peacefully at his home in Santa Fe on March 10th. His mind was clear, his memory sharp, and his elegance intact to the end. He and his wife, Saville Ryan, formerly of New York City and with roots in Ashcroft, were in their 25th year of marriage. They moved to Santa Fe in 1996 from Aspen, where Charlie had lived for more than two decades and was widely known as the author of People of the Shining Mountains, an introduction to the history and culture of the Ute tribe. Reviewed as “eminently readable” when published in 1982, the book went through ten printings and remains a much-cited study.
Charlie was born on April 15, 1926, in Cincinnati. He graduated from Walnut Hills High School there and continued his education at the University of Cincinnati and at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He spent his professional career as a real-estate developer, establishing subdivisions in Atlanta early in his career and later in Aspen, where his projects included the creation of Mt. Springs Ranch, a unique property on the saddle of a mountain with spectacular views from the Continental Divide to Utah. In Colorado he was also active as a dealer in Native American arts. His adventurous spirit and his business acumen ran deep. While in high school, he secured a summer job cooking for crews clearing invasive weeds at Yosemite National Park and traveled there from Ohio on troop-transport trains. During off hours, he hitchhiked to the Ahwahnee Hotel, where he would buy candy bars for a nickel and then sell them at camp for a dime. That summer he also spent $3.50 to acquire a photograph of a pine tree-a good investment, it turned out, since the photographer was Ansel Adams.
Despite his entrepreneurial success, he did not allow business to define his life. While in Atlanta, he sang in a highly regarded men’s chamber choir, the Huff ‘n Puffs. Throughout his life he nurtured an interest in history, politics, economics, and literature absorbing new ideas and weighing them with an open mind, maintaining the stance of an informed and independent thinker. In later years he spent happy hours in his study surrounded by Native American pottery, a book never far from his reach. Charlie was a warm and engaging conversationalist who listened attentively and thought before he spoke, often infusing his observations with droll wit. He was generous in appreciating the achievements of others. A child of the Depression, he believed that no vehicle needed to visit a car wash more than once a year. Having learned to press and fold his shirts as a young man, he saw no reason to change that habit until his physical capacity declined in his last year. He emanated kindness and courtesy; he displayed depth in love, in intellect, and in principles.
In addition to his wife Saville, he is survived by a brother, Gordon Marsh of New York City and Gatteville, France, and a niece and nephew, Emilie Marsh Roberts of London and Matthew Marsh of Paris. Charlie had three children, a source of pride, from two previous marriages: Stephen Marsh of Denver, a writer/journalist; David I. Marsh of Denver, a former Pitkin County Prosecutor and State Assistant Attorney General; and Carrie Marsh Schultz of Cordillera, Colorado, a non-profit development consultant. Contributions in honor of Charlie may be made to the Charles Marsh Memorial History Book Fund at Walnut Hills High School. Please write checks, earmarked for the Charles Marsh ’44 Fund, to WHHS Alumni Foundation, and send to: 3250 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45207. A memorial service originally had been scheduled for early May at the Prince of Peace Chapel in Aspen to coincide with the anniversary of his marriage.
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