Karl Joseph Marsh of Waterford, passed away Thursday April 29th in palliative care at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital after a short illness. Born in New Waterford June 15, 1936 to Catherine (Andrews) and Thomas Marsh.
Karl was an excellent multi-sport athlete in his younger years who naturally progressed to becoming an influential and knowledgeable coach. He played baseball and had success with the NW Giants, and basketball with the NW Strands. He was also an accomplished university athlete winning the Canadian Championship with STFX Basketball. He enjoyed playing rugby, hockey, softball, football and curling. As an individual, and also as a teammate, Karl has been inducted into the New Waterford, Cape Breton and Maritimes Sports Hall of Fame respectively. He was a proud sports historian who had an encyclopedic memory concerning New Waterford and Cape Breton sports. He always found great joy in reminiscing about the community’s athletic accomplishments.
Karl managed and coached various baseball, soccer, hockey and basketball teams. He was also fundamental to sports development through creating mini programs, and pioneered many “firsts” regarding sports in schools and the community. He also served on many boards, committees, and was a member of numerous community based organizations over the years. From the Parish Council, Knights of Columbus, to various sport and education bodies, he was a person dedicated to public service and creating opportunities.
He has been described as a sports icon in the Town of New Waterford for so many reasons. His sporting accomplishments are truly extensive, and too daunting a task to properly summarize here. Regardless, we his family, friends and community are proud of them all.
Karl also was an avid artist who worked in many mediums but mostly charcoal, pencil, ink and pastels. He enjoyed drawing animals, portraits, sports and political cartoons. He has drawn portraits of many local Cape Breton athletes, and was always one to try a different medium or new technique. Karl was also very interested in photography and was seen at many sporting events with a camera in front of his face recording events of his children and grandchildren.
He had a lifelong interest in jazz music and its musicians. A purist who appreciated the “standards”, Karl could listen to a rendition of any classic and list off everyone featured from the vocals, down to every accompanying musician. (maybe the year and place it was recorded if he was extra sharp that day.)
He loved to travel to concerts whenever he could, often combining his art work with his love of jazz by sketching the musicians in concert and then giving the art to them. He felt great enjoyment from the music, and it was a big part of the family’s life throughout the years.
Karl was a well-known educator and administrator. He was a high school teacher, supervisor, principal and “went back“ to teaching grade 7 in the latter part of his career. He found this the most rewarding as he had direct influence on his students that has endured to this day. He had many wonderful students over the years, and if awarded the title of “Grizzle Head” in his class, know you had special place in his heart.
It has been heartwarming over the last few days to hear from so many people he has touched, guided, counselled, taught, coached, laughed with, and mentored in his life. Their stories of how he always greeted you with an enthusiastic smile, how he listened to you, was genuine in his concern for you, would try to help you, and also how he could also talk your leg off. He always strived to bring out the best in those around him whether in sport or in life. He was simply a wonderful, caring great gentleman who will be missed by everyone lucky enough to know him.
He was so proud of his family and would tell you all about them at any opportunity. Surviving are his daughter, Karla (John Allan) MacNeil, Okotoks, AB; son, Bruce (Helen) New Waterford, son-in-law, Tracy Deruelle, New Waterford; grandchildren, Katie Marsh (Andrew) ,David Marsh (Nicole), Heather Bignall (Sean), Ethan and Kellan Deruelle, Karl Malcom and Ian MacNeil and great-grandchildren, Teddy and Olivier Aucoin.
He found happiness and companionship with Jean (Jeannie) Grace in the last few years of his life, and would tell you he was so truly lucky to have her. He is also survived by brothers and sisters in-law, Jerry and Joanne, Jackie, Georgie and Lorne and Willena. He will also be missed by his many nephews, nieces, cousins and friends. His special travel buddy and dear friend; his nephew, Bill Marsh and nephew, Aubrey Purdy, will miss him dearly. His close friends in the “breakfast crew” will remember their stories and cherish that time spent together. Special lifelong friends Gregor and Selica McPherson will miss Karl.
Karl was predeceased by his parents, Thomas and Catherine; his siblings, Bill, Eileen, Stella and Gerry. He was also predeceased by two children in infancy. He took the passing of his daughter, Susan Deruelle and the love of his life, his wife, Marilyn very hard and missed them dearly. He was the primary caregiver for his wife Marilyn for many years as she struggled with Parkinson’s disease. He showed his true spirit and mettle as a man in love and care for her.
Due to Provincial Pandemic Regulations there will be no visitation and only a small private family service will be held in V.J. McGillivray Funeral Home, New Waterford. Interment will follow in Mount Carmel Cemetery. Funeral Service is available through the following link: https://youtu.be/rOz-BrMTM0g
We are planning a celebration of Karl’s life in a mass and reception for the fall of 2021. This will be an opportunity for all of us to gather, remember him and give him the farewell he truly deserves.
We request no flowers, but donations can be made in Karl’s memory to the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton or a charity of your choice. Online expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at: www.vjmcgillivray.ca.