Marshall Eldon Colley, 92, of Harrisburg, MO, passed away peacefully Saturday, September 13, 2014. Marshall was born on December 31, 1921 (before the time this would have been a lucky tax break), on the family farm, to his parents, Benjamin F. Colley and Lucratie St. Clair Colley. He was the fourth of six children, and the last surviving member of the group which included: Brooksie Shields, Trixie Ramsey, Nellie McConnell, Helen D. Forbes and Pete Colley.
Marshall served in World War II from 1942 – 1945 on the U.S.S. New Mexico, fighting in the Pacific theater. He was a welder who fortunately got to spend most of his time below decks, out of fire, but he enjoyed the perks of serving with the Greatest Generation, including eating fried fresh egg sandwiches in Hawaii and touring Boston, where he first tried Chinese food and roller skating.
When Marshall came home, he took the sound advice of his elders and found a nice girl at church to settle down with. He met Betty Sue Bacon in St. Charles, MO, and they married July 26, 1947. They were married 50 years before she preceded him in death in 1997.
In 1948, Marshall moved his young wife to the family farm, where Betty exchanged the glamorous life of working in a shoe factory to being a farmer’s wife. In 1950, the first of their three children, William Eldon was born; and in 1959, their daughter, Marsha Sue was born. Marshall continued to provide for his family by working the farm all through the 1960’s until he decided to try his hand at working at the University of Missouri, at the hospital in maintence, once again using his welding skills that served him so well in the Navy and on the farm. In 1975, this smart decision became clear when Marshall and Betty’s third and final child, Frances Marie, was born, much to the shock (and of course, joy) of everyone. (As in most things, Frances turned out to be the most expensive.)
In 1986, Marshall retired from the university; however, his idea of retirement was going back to cattle farming full-time (rather than half-time). This included all the usual tasks retired people love to do: birthing calves, baling hay and feeding cows in the dead of winter when anyone with sense is inside and warm. In his “spare time,” Marshall would weld on home projects for himself (Why buy it when he could engineer it himself?), fix broken farm equipment at no charge for neighbors and friends, do various “honey do” projects for his sisters who lived nearby, and make sure his supply of winter wood was well-stocked. He never worked so hard in his life.
Marshall continued to farm and bale hay until he was 80. At 80 he decided that baling hay was a young man’s game; however, he didn’t sell off the rest of his cattle until he was 83. When he finally gave it up, he leased his land to a fellow cattle farmer and as the cattle farmer would come out to set up fence for the cows that would graze on the leased land, Marshall would venture out to help him, typically outworking everybody.
He played the fiddle by ear; cooked biscuits and gravy every Saturday morning; and could make just about any tool or item you needed from a store. He loved motorcycles (all engines really), and first took up riding one when he was almost 50 and didn’t give it up for 40 years. He still thought the Model T was one of the greatest cars ever made, though he could drive about anything. He liked to take walks, go hunting and fishing. The only movie he every really approved of was O Brother Where Art Thou.
Marshall was a deacon elder of Mt. Pleasant Christian Church, and he lived his life to the best of his ability to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” He was kind, funny, quiet, serious and every bit of a gentleman. He loved pie, especially chocolate meringue, the Grand Old Opry and baseball. He was the best of men and daddies. He was one of a kind and will be missed.
Marshall is survived by two daughters, Marsha Sue Schafer and husband, John of Harrisburg and Frances Marie Colley of Columbia. Also surviving are his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife and a son, William Eldon Colley and by his siblings.
Services honoring Marshall’s life will be held at 1:00 p.m., Friday, September 19, 2014 at Carr-Yager Funeral Home in Fayette with his niece, Rev. Sheila Christy and Rev. Travis Fritz officiating. Interment with military honors will follow at Perche Church Cemetery near Harrisburg.
Visitation will be Thursday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Carr-Yager Funeral Home.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Heifer Project International which is a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world through sustainable agriculture.