Calhoun's first woman county judge dies

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

May 22, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

The black-and-white photo shows a strong-statured Arlene Marshall sitting triumphantly with arms perfectly poised over the top of a desk.

The 1999 Advocate file photo is the start of something great, not to mention someone great - a woman who became a pioneer as the first woman county judge in Calhoun County.

From that moment on, Marshall's resume overflowed at the margins with lists of involvement in the Crossroads, which many said has changed their community forever.

Marshall, 71, died Monday.

Though she is gone, her memory remains fresh in the minds of those who knew her, and those who didn't.

Marshall's life revolved around two doctrines: community and commitment.

"Arlene was a beautiful and caring person," said Danny Cano, Port Lavaca Rotary Club president. "She was every bit a model of the service we provide with our Rotary Club."

Marshall and her husband, Norman, always provided the food at no cost at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life survivor dinner, Cano said.

Marshall was a past president of the Rotary Club, just like Russell Cain, a member who was also a past president.

Cain knew Marshall about 25 years. Being in Rotary together and being on the Calhoun County Economic Development Corporation together, of which Marshall was once president, were just two of the things the friends were involved in together.

"She was kind-hearted and she cared about young people," Cain said. "She had a heart for people who were hurting."

Marshall's community service stretched even further.

She was president of the Victoria College Calhoun County Center advisory board and a member of Golden Crescent Workforce, the Victoria College Foundation and the University of Houston-Victoria President's Advisory Board.

Sherre Clegg, the campus manager of the Victoria College - Calhoun County Center, only knew Marshall briefly.

Shortly after Clegg went to work there in November, Marshall retired for health reasons.

"I was sad to see her resign," she said. "She seemed to have a real passion for bettering her community."

Marshall had a particular interest in youth and was on the Victoria College Foundation board of directors from July 2003 to November, said Jennifer Yancey, vice president of college advancement and external affairs.

"Her dedication to the community, students, business and industry was evident in her commitment to helping expand education and training opportunities in our region," Yancey wrote in an email on behalf of the foundation. "She was a friend of the college."

This heavy involvement is something Jan Regan, one of Marshall's good friends, was used to.

Regan knew Marshall through Rotary Club, but more so through the Friends of the Calhoun County Museum.

Regan saw Marshall shortly before she died, and Marshall had asked about how the Friends of the Calhoun County Museum was coming along on gathering funds to build their new museum.

This is what Marshall did, Regan said. She put the community first.

"She'll be missed, and she'll leave a hole in everybody's life," Regan said.



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