My mother, Mary Sheila Deane Marshall,
passed away on April Fourth, 2006.
Sheila Marshall was a remarkable woman who lived a remarkable
life in remarkable times. In fact, if there were any word that
could be used to describe Sheila Marshall, it would be "Remarkable."
Sheila came into this world on July
18th, 1929 to Austin and Ada Deane, in Buenos
She was born into a British family, but became imbued with Argentine
culture. She spoke fluent Spanish throughout her life. Austin
Deane was an engineer and a World War One veteran. Ada had been
in the Women’s Auxiliaries during The War. Both were champion
golfers, and the house was filled with their trophies. This culture
of accomplishment obviously had an effect on Sheila’s life, and
she lived her life as a demonstration of what can be accomplished
through persistence, education and focus.
Just before World War Two, Sheila
had been visiting England, and returned
to Argentina at the start of
hostilities with Nazi Germany.
She had a story about how they
got back to Buenos Aires just
as the infamous German warship
Graf Spee began sinking
ships off the South American
coast. She told us a story about how Buenos Aires was filled
with German sailors after the Graf
Spee was scuttled. Remarkable
After the war, Sheila returned to
England and attended Moreton
Hall Girls Boarding School from 1945-1946.
Upon receiving her diploma from
Moreton, she moved to New York,
and attended Barnard
College for her undergraduate degree. She
originally wanted to be a diplomat,
but became fascinated by Geology
after hearing Ralph J. Holmes, a
visiting scholar from Columbia
She considered Columbia to be one
of the finest geology schools in
the world, and insisted on attending
Columbia for her postgraduate education.
In 1951, she graduated Columbia
University with a Master’s degree
Sheila considered her time in New
York to be some of the happiest
days of her life. She roomed
with her dearest friend, a gorgeous Czechoslovakian socialite
named Desa Pavlu. The two of them must have left a trail of broken
hearts throughout Manhattan. Sheila had a proposal of marriage
from a young man named Arthur Gilkey. She declined, and shortly
thereafter, he perished
while ascending K2. Sheila was also courted by a chap
named Vladimir "Vlado" Fabry. Vlado
died with Dag
The Congo. It seems that Vlado may
have been connected with the CIA. Sheila said she could never
see herself marrying Vlado because he had a "very round bottom."
After completing her education,
she entered the intensely male-dominated world of Geology. She
joined the Texasgulf company because they offered her a position
as a field geologist, instead of putting her into a clerical position.
She returned to England, and was
introduced by her former Moreton Hall headmistress to a handsome
young American gentleman named Randolph
“Mike” Marshall. They
married in 1961, and remained married for 39 years. During the
time they were married, they had quite a life. Mike was a CIA
operative, and they lived in Nigeria, where he had been tasked
to observe communist activity. He left the CIA in 1967, but she
kept his secret until the late 1990s. Her family had no idea.
During her marriage, she lived in Nigeria, Morocco, Uganda, London,
Washington DC and Bethesda before finally settling in Rockville.
Sheila worked almost ten years for the National
Science Teachers Association. Education was tremendously important to Sheila. During
that time she made many friends and had numerous accomplishments.
(That's Me, Lookin' at You.)
Sheila fell in love with Rockville,
and became very involved with arts
and science promotions. She was
a founding member of both the
Rockville Arts Place and the
Consortium for Science. Rockville
Science Day (That's her second from right.) was one
of the most important events in
her later years, and we would
hear a constant stream of information
Just before her passing, Sheila
enjoyed a big accomplishment. She had been spearheading an effort
to create a Rockville
Science Center, and the Center was approved
on March 27th, 2006. This was the culmination of 18 years of work,
of which Sheila was very proud. As with everything else in her
life, she never even questioned whether or not it was possible.
She just set forth and did it. “Impossible” was not a word in
Sheila’s vocabulary. Remarkable Life.
Sheila leaves behind two sons and
one granddaughter from her marriage with Mike, and Mike's three
children and four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her
name should be made to the Rockville Consortium for Science (http://www.rockvillescience.org).