Obituary of Robert Marshall
Robert James Marshall passed away on December 21, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was 91 years old.
Bob Marshall was, at his core, a Brit, yet first and foremost, he was a mechanical engineer. He began his career as a ‘tool and die’ guy, worked on tractor design, and oversaw the creation of the Ford Falcon, Cardinal, Comet, Mustang GT, and Ford Escort. During his career, Mr. Marshall lived in Michigan, England, and Australia.
He was born in Sunderland, England, on April 21, 1932, to Arthur James, a welder by trade, and Wilhelmina (Robertson) Marshall, a textile weaver. At the onset of World War II, he and his late sister, Mary, moved to Dagenham, England, a suburb of London. His father had been conscripted to work at the local Ford factory, producing ambulances and V-8 engines for the military.
In 1940, due to heavy bombing during the London Blitz, he and his sister evacuated to Galashiels, Scotland, and moved in with their maternal grandparents, where Mr. Marshall attended Galashiels Academy, a private boy’s school. Returning to London in June 1944, he was awarded a scholarship at the Ford Motor Company Trade School, then attended Southeast Essex Technical College, graduating in 1952 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Married in 1955 to Marjorie Lucy Dodd (1932–2018), the love of his life, they emigrated to the United States in 1956, settling in Dearborn, Michigan, home of Ford Motor Company Headquarters. A year later, due to budget cuts, Mr. Marshall was laid off from his job as a project engineer at Ford. He caught the entrepreneurial spirit and started Electromac Inc., a jig and tool design drafting service. Initially, the workload was heavy and profitable, but the economic recession eventually resulted in the complete absence of orders, and the company folded.
Hired by the Chrysler Corporation, Mr. Marshall worked as a design engineer, and in 1959 he was rehired by Ford Motor Company. One promotion led to another, and in 1967, Mr. Marshall, sponsored by Ford, completed the Harvard University Program for Management Development.
After four years as Executive Director of Advanced Body Engineering, he was offered a job in Melbourne, Australia, a place he especially liked. Working as Director of Product Development, Mr. Marshall and his team were in part in charge of test-driving vehicles, often going off-road into the Australian outback, where the terrain was rugged, magnificent, and breathtaking. In 1977, he and his wife said goodbye to Down Under and headed for England, where he worked for Ford Europe as Director of Body and Electrical Engineering.
Six years later, after returning to the US, he served as Director of Body and Chassis Engineering for North American Automotive Operations (NAAO) and before retiring from Ford in 1990, Mr. Marshall supervised Ford's worldwide quality efforts as Executive Director of Corporate Quality. Working as a part-time consultant for Creative Industries, a subsidiary of Masco Industries, he was appointed, in 1993, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Engineering. Masco is presently headquartered in Livonia, Michigan.
Mr. Marshall, officially retired before moving to Florida’s Gulf Coast in 2008, he and his wife would spend spring and summer at their home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and then in late October made the long journey to their winter residence in Toorak, a suburb of Melbourne, where they took great pleasure in the Australian summer and Melbourne’s excellent restaurants. Mr. Marshall loved to travel the world with his beloved wife by his side and visited a total of fifty-two countries in all.
In his youth, Mr. Marshall was an avid cyclist who enjoyed trips with friends to Europe. A skilled carpenter, an avid collector of fine wine, sports cars, and Triumph motorcycles (owning twenty-five at one point), and a connoisseur of good food, from fish and chips to beef wellington, he was also an outdoor enthusiast who enjoyed fishing and duck hunting.
Mr. Marshall is survived by his daughters, Kay Marshall and Ann Crary, and Ann’s husband, Mike. Grandchildren Jonathan Alexiou and Sean and Hannah Crary. A celebration of life ceremony will be held at a later date. In place of flowers, donations can be made to the Salvation Army at https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/ways-to-give/.