Memorial ServiceSchertz Funeral Home
Schertz, TX 78154
Mary Alice (Opdyke) Marsh was born on February 11, 1930, in Washington, New Jersey. She was the only child of Charles & Margaret (Feldman) Opdyke.
She received a bachelor’s degree in music from Murray State University (Kentucky) in 1951 and did graduate work at Western State University, Bowling Green, Kentucky. She is a 1976 graduate of the National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. and a 1981 graduate of the Tuck Executive Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, under the advanced management program of the Air Force.
While at Murray State, she was a Campus Favorite and a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and Sigma Alpha Iota Sorority. After graduation, Mary was an elementary school teacher in Barlow, Kentucky and a high school teacher in Franklin, Kentucky. In 1958, as an employee-radio personality of WCOV Radio & Television in Montgomery, Alabama, she was awarded “Best Radio Christmas Commercials” and hosted her own television show, “Teen Party”, which was comparable to Dick Clark’s “American Band Stand”.
She was commissioned a First Lieutenant, United States Air Force in August 1959. Positions throughout her career have been pioneering, challenging, and varied. In April 1968, Captain Marsh was the first Air Force woman assigned as an Advisor to the Vietnamese Air Force, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. In May 1971, she was moved to Homestead AFB, Florida where, during a 4-year period, she served as Chief, Consolidated Base Personnel Office, Director of Personnel, and Deputy Base Commander.
Following graduation from the National War College in June 1976, she became Vice Commander of the 50 th Combat Support Group at Hahn AB, Germany and in 1977, when she took command of the group; she was the first woman Commander of a combat support group on an operational base.
In 1978, Colonel Marsh was sent to Headquarters, United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany as Chief, Intelligence Plans Division. Less than 2 years later, in September 1980, she was assigned to the United States Delegation of the Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium, first, as Special Assistant to the U.S. Military Representative and later, in November 1981, the Chief of Staff to the United States Delegation. In 1982, she became the first female Director on the Joint Staff in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J-1) in the Pentagon.
Promoted to Brigadier General on May 1, 1983 and shortly thereafter assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency. General Marsh was asked by the German Government to address the 10 th International Congress of the International Society for Military Law and Laws of War in 1985, held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Her subject was “Women in the Military”.
General Marsh retired May 1, 1986. The general’s military decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, and Bronze Star Medal.
General Marsh is a long-time resident of Schertz, Texas. Post-retirement, General Marsh served 2 years on the Schertz Planning and Zoning Committee; 6 years (3 terms) as a member of the Schertz City Council; and is a charter member of the Schertz Economic Development Commission. She was a VFW Texas All State Post Commander of Post 8315, Schertz, 1995-1996. In 1997-1998, she was State All American District Commander of District 5 and, for the same period, she was a recipient of the coveted Rutherford Award, being named an Outstanding VFW Officer for the Department of Texas VFW. She continued to serve the VFW in the following State offices: State Judge Advocate; Area Coordinator (2 times); State Chief of Staff (2 times); State Membership Committee Chairman; and last served a 3-year appointment to the VFW Texas State Budget and Finance Committee. General Marsh was appointed a VFW National Chief of Staff for 2003-2004 as well as VFW National Aide De Camp for 2006-2007. General Marsh is a member of the Disabled Veterans of America, the American Legion, and a lifetime member of the VFW.
In addition, General Marsh was recognized in 1985, receiving the Murray State University Distinguished Alumnus Award and is a 1993 recipient of the Oak Award as an Outstanding Alumna of Kentucky by the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education.
She was married to the late Halbert G. Marsh, USAF Retired. She is survived by a brother-in-law Earl Marsh, Sr; nephew Earl Marsh, Jr; niece Gayle Marsh; and the very close Zaja Family in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany.
In lieu of flowers, she would encourage donations to either the USAF Women's Memorial Foundation, Dept 560, Washington D.C. 20042-0500 or VFW Voice of Democracy Program, Department of Texas, P.O. Box 14468, Austin TX 78761.
To view the livestream for General Mary Marsh's service, please click on the link below: