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John R. Marshall

Jasper, Ga.

John R. Marshall, 81, left his Field of Dreams in Jasper, Ga., to join so many others he loved (and who loved him right back) on Jan. 31, 2018.
He was born on Christmas Day, 1936, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The youngest of six children, his five older sisters said he was the best Christmas present ever. All who knew John or even met him briefly would echo that sentiment. His father was Verne Marshall, a crusading Iowa journalist whose second best "gift" that year was the Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper, The Cedar Rapids Gazette. His mother was Clementine Robichaux Marshall of Thibodaux, La.
He graduated from Cedar Rapids McKinley High School in 1955 and attended his 60th class reunion in 2015. After a brief stay at Iowa State, John went to work for Bell Telephone in Chicago, where he would become a lifelong Cubs fan. Realizing the potential in telephony, he moved his young family back to Cedar Rapids to start Sound, Inc. He was among the first to challenge "Ma Bell," and played a role in the historic Carterfone Decision of 1968. He then started TelCom Systems, which he sold to move to Florida, just in time for Hurricane David. Before he left TelCom Systems, he hired a young upstart from WMT named Clark McLeod to help with sales. Returning from Florida, he and McLeod decided to start another telephone company, Teleconnect. That company would eventually become Telecom*USA and was sold to MCI. He continued to work in sales throughout his long career, and was, by all accounts, simply the best salesperson anyone had ever seen.
He loved to drive and frequently could be found crossing the country behind the wheel of different vehicles, including large motorhomes. He lived in various cities and climates, from the highest mountains near the Canadian border down to the warm waters off the Florida panhandle. He followed all the Chicago professional sports teams, but none as much as his Chicago Cubs. He often would tell his young children about the time he played for the Cubs (he didn't), drove the NASCAR circuit (nope), and how he got kicked out of college for his participation in a panty raid (no comment). "Big John" (as he was affectionately known to his classmates) was a genuinely good man who everyone wanted to be around.
He was generous to a fault and gave everything he could to everyone he met. He often would open his home to the less fortunate or those in need of a more stable environment, welcoming them as family. He endeared himself to everyone and few would ever forget him. Whether it was the staff of a local restaurant or the front desk clerk at a hotel he had visited years before, all would immediately remember John Marshall upon his return. Honest, cheerful, and always ready to lend a helping hand, he was an amazing man that few could match.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Verne and Clementine Marshall; sisters, Jeanne Byers, Patricia Sheehy, Barbara Hoffman and Marie Louise Plain; and son, Stephen Banta Marshall.
He is survived by his wife, Leslie Marshall of Jasper, Ga.; sister, Frances Lash of Council Bluffs, Iowa; son, Christopher V. (Mary) Marshall of Overland Park, Kan.; son, Jonathan B. (Rena) Marshall of Des Moines, Iowa; daughter, Jennifer A. Marshall of Sand Point, Idaho; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
Final arrangements were made by Georgia Funeral Care & Cremation Services of Acworth, Ga. A private ceremony was held in Jasper, Ga., on Feb. 10. A memorial stone will be placed in Oak Hill Cemetery on Mount Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids. Donations can be made to your favorite charity – he'd like that.
Our thanks to Brandy and the rest of the folks at Sonshine Manor in Jasper, Ga., for taking such great care of John during his final days.
John Randolph Marshall was one of those rarest of people who had a positive impact on thousands of lives, and negative on none. We will miss him dearly.