Obituary: James H. Marshall, 78

NEWPORT, R.I. — James H. Marshall, retired entrepreneur, yachtsman and environmentalist, died Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at Newport Hospital, surrounded by his loving family. He was 78.

His family, many of his school-year friends and teachers knew him as J Herbert Marshall, so-named after a grandfather, and by the diminutive “Bert.” He was a member of the Class of 1957, DeLaSalle Academy and a graduate of Providence College (’62).
His name was changed, he often said, by the Providence College Registrar, backed up by the Bursar, who declared him to be James H., thus re-labeling him for the rest of his life. He adopted the diminutive “Jim.”
In the business community, Mr. Marshall spent 30 years in real estate and finance endeavors, becoming an expert in special purpose properties, ranging from large estates to churches and convents to industrial and commercial developments and buildings. A licensed real estate broker and certified general appraiser, Mr. Marshall was past president of the Commercial Investment division of the RI Assn. of Realtors and past president of the Boston chapter, American Society of Appraisers, from which he earned an Accredited Senior Appraiser designation.
Several of his academic papers on re-use of special purpose properties were published in professional journals, as well as contributions to various trade publications. His real estate expertise was acknowledged by various state and federal courts as well as municipal zoning boards and community governments.
Mr. Marshall retired in 1996 as president of the Wm. R. Warburton Agency, a family business established in 1921, thus ending the company’s 75 years’ service to Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts communities.
Previously, he was a journalist for many years, beginning with the Newport Daily News as a high school correspondent, and ending at the Providence Journal when he left the “Fourth Estate for real estate.”
Mr. Marshall was active in the communities in which he resided or engaged in business. An avid cruising sailor he also supported youth sailing programs throughout Narragansett Bay.
He was the founding president and a director of the Greenwich Bay Sailing Assn., based at East Greenwich Yacht Club. He was also a past chairman of the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association’s Junior Committee.
Mr. Marshall was a former member of Greenwich Bay Power Squadron and East Greenwich and Newport Yacht Clubs.
Following the death of his wife (Mary Rose Warburton) a single-handed junior women’s championship for Narragansett Bay was established in her memory. That was subsequently expanded into the Junior Women’s Regatta, featuring single-, double-handed sailing and Optimist class racing for girls.
He was a proud supporter of Sail Newport, tirelessly volunteering his time and his boat “Tunk” for race committee duties.
He was an advocate of education, dedicating at least two weeks each year to professional enhancement, frequently attending academic programs at various colleges and universities across the nation to further his endless quest for knowledge. He loved reading books, especially those of history; a favorite subject was his hometown of Newport, RI. He loved to share his knowledge with anyone who asked.

A proud supporter of Catholic Schools, he established a scholarship at La Salle Academy, Providence, for promising students to receive a Christian Brothers’ education. He also volunteered as a reading helper and math tutor at the Pell School, going back to his early professional roots of substitute teaching. He was a member of the Board of Directors for Baby Steps, an East Bay community early education program which supports families with young children.

In his retirement, Mr. Marshall became active in various environmental causes, including being a supporter of the Aquidneck Land Trust, which led to protecting critical water resources on Aquidneck Island. He was a co-founder of the Aquidneck Island Watershed Council. The council, in co-operation with Salve Regina University conducted a three-year series of tests of the various streams and waterways comprising the island’s drinking water supplies. The tests uncovered major pollutant sources and prompted further studies funded by the federal government. Recently, the Watershed Council merged with Clean Ocean Access, which has taken the lead in not only protecting drinking water on the island, but also in cleaning up storm water pollution to make the ocean and Narragansett Bay safer for recreational and commercial users.
His interest in protecting the environment began in his Scouting years, where he earned, among others, merit badges in forestry, nature, canoeing, fishing, and camping. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America organization.
Born in Newport, Mr. Marshall was the son of the late Francis J. and Madge (Robertson) Marshall. He is a descendant of Jeffery Robertson, a Colonial founder of Virginia and a direct descendant of Norville Robertson, an original settler of Mississippi. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Rose (Warburton) Marshall and his brothers, Francis J. Marshall, Jr. and Jamie Marshall (twin).
He is survived by daughters Ann E. Sousa and Mary Marshall Purinton and their respective spouses, Augustine P. Sousa III and Zachary W. Purinton, and a granddaughter, Cordelia Rose Purinton, all of Massachusetts.
He was “Uncle JimBert” to Lesley Aman and Kate Marshall, and Steven, Christopher and Jennifer Aman, all of New Jersey. He was a caring connection to hundreds of Marshall and Robertson cousins scattered around the globe, as well as a mentor and confidant to innumerable courtesy nieces and nephews and friends of his daughters.
The family will receive well-wishers commencing at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 in the narthex of St. Lucy’s Catholic Church 909 West Main Road, Middletown, RI, followed by a Celebration of Life Memorial Service at 11 o’clock.
Burial will be private at the convenience of the family, as his remains were donated to The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Mr. Marshall’s name to the Leary-O’Hern educational endowment, c/o La Salle Academy, 629 Academy Ave., Providence, RI, 02908, Clean Ocean Access, 23 Jonny Cake Hill, Middletown, RI 02842 or to a favorite sailing or environmental cause.
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