New Albany News

At 95, Marsh still a devoted public servant

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Glyde Marsh is entering his seventh term on New Albany City Council as one of the oldest elected officials in the state.

He joked he is "still foolish enough to run for office" at age 95.

"I continue to serve primarily because I have the characteristic of concern about the future," Marsh said. "I see things that need to be done and need attention in the future, and I want to influence what happens."

Marsh is being recognized at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 12 by the Ohio House of Representatives for his service.

"I wanted to recognize Dr. Marsh for his commitment to the community and his dedication to public service after all these years," said state Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville). "I look forward to his visit to the House of Representatives, where he can be publicly recognized for his exceptional devotion to the people of New Albany."

Gonzales' staff checked with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission to determine if Marsh is the oldest elected official in the state. Her aide, Christopher Corder, said the commission did not know of anyone older than Marsh currently in office.

Marsh might not walk as quickly as he once did, but he rarely misses a New Albany City Council meeting, and everyone who knows him says his memory is a strong asset to the community.

"All of us respect his intellect, his love for the community and we rely on his institutional knowledge about the community," said Bill Ebbing, president of the New Albany Co., the area's largest developer.

"The quality of advice and the information he brings is priceless," said Dave Olmstead, who served on City Council with Marsh from 2004 to 2007 and took office as a Plain Township trustee in 2009. "He remembers what we did years ago and why we did it, and there's real value in that community memory."

Marsh, who was born in 1918, is a native of northern Ohio. He arrived in New Albany in 1946 after serving four years in the U.S. Army.

He came with his wife, Margaret, whom he met while she was coordinating a dance for the USO. They were married 53 years until Margaret died of cancer in 1995.

Marsh said he enrolled in medical school at the Ohio State University after leaving the military.

Having grown up on a farm, Marsh said, he knew chickens would help put him through school, so he and Margaret bought 3,400 hens and started delivering eggs to three groceries and several homes in Columbus and Sunbury.

Though the original 45-by-45-foot henhouse is gone, Marsh continues to raise chickens on his property in a smaller setting and regularly gives eggs to friends and colleagues.

Marsh said he eventually changed from the study of medicine to veterinary school at Ohio State and ended up teaching at his alma mater, where he retired in 1985 as a professor of veterinary science.

It was while he was teaching that Margaret, whom he calls a "political animal," got him involved in politics.

Prior to serving on New Albany City Council, Marsh said he served on the New Albany-Plain Local school board for 10 years and was part of the Justeens, a local group that operated the former Plain Township pool on Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road through the late 1990s.

Marsh said he learned about people while delivering eggs, something that served him well in politics.

"I want to represent the interests of the community," Marsh said. "But it's hard for politicians to know what the people really want.

"I try to go to every meeting I can. I attend (New Albany High School) football games and basketball games and I talk to people everywhere I go. One of the things I often ask people when I first meet them is, 'If you could change things here, what would you change?' "

Marsh has near perfect attendance at New Albany City Council meetings -- missing only on election nights because he works the polls -- and he is chairman of the city's finance committee. Even though he still works as a poultry consultant at egg farms all over the state, he jokes that he often drives hundreds of miles every other Tuesday night to make it back to New Albany in time for City Council meetings.

"It's been wonderful working with Glyde the past 10 years and I think that he is a nice addition to council," New Albany Mayor Nancy Ferguson said. "He's very fiscally conservative and council has always been very confident allowing him to head the finance committee and watch over the investments the city makes.

"He keeps up to date with changes to finances, reads the Wall Street Journal daily and has a good handle on the investment side."

Marsh also is a fixture at other public meetings, serving as City Council's liaison to the Plain Township trustees, and he occasionally shows up at a New Albany-Plain Local school board meeting when the board discusses an issue he believes is important to the city.

"I think he also makes (City Council) think outside the box a lot," Ferguson said. "He brings ideas very different from the rest of council's ideas and always surprises us with his thoughts. Many of them stimulate further thought on our part and it also challenges us to make better decisions."

Over the years and between meetings, Marsh was able to raise two children, battle cancer twice and survive several automobile crashes, two of the most recent occurring last year.

But nothing seems to deter him from public service.

"Dr. Marsh is one of the most dedicated public servants I know," Olmstead said. "He's served on the school board, on village or city council. So far, he's not been a member of the board of trustees."

Marsh smiles when he hears people refer to another opportunity for public service.

He said he always has been interested in serving as a Plain Township trustee.

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