Joan B. Marsh, 84

August 31, 2015

MarshJoan B. Marsh, 84 who devoted her life to the education and development of young children, died of Alzheimer’s-related issues at Hospice House in Callaway, Maryland, August 24, 2015.

The daughter of the late George K. Brengle and Gladys Ayres, she was born in Brunswick, MD. She attended Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), graduating in 1952. In December 1952 she married her husband Jim, and began her career as an educator, teaching in the Frederick County and Carroll County public school systems.

In 1958, seeing a need for an early education program, she co-founded Just Five Folks, a preschool/kindergarten for five-year-olds in Westminster, MD. In 1966 she and her husband moved to Leonardtown, where Mr. Marsh was the manager of Minitec, one of the first non-Navy related light-industries in St. Mary’s county. Mrs. Marsh went to work for the St. Mary’s County school system at Banneker Elementary.

When the State of Maryland passed legislation requiring the regulation of all home daycare settings, Mrs. Marsh was asked to take charge of this new licensing program for St. Mary’s, Charles, and Calvert counties. Working for the St. Mary’s County Health Department, she logged thousands of miles throughout Southern Maryland, advising home caregivers on the best practices for the care and development of young children. It was not an easy task, informing long-time caregivers that they must modify their homes to come into compliance with state law or risk being shut down. Mrs. Marsh’s gentle demeanor, smiling face, and unfailing politeness put people at ease and allowed her to defuse the sometimes hostile situations in which she and her co-workers found themselves.

In 1981 she earned a Master of Education in Early Children from the University of Maryland. Her expertise was called upon by the St. Mary’s County Board of Education, on which she served from 1986-1991. She retired from the Health Department in 1991, and was asked by Father Andrew White School to be a long-term substitute for one of the kindergarten teachers. She stayed at the school for two years, and ended her professional career doing what she loved best: teaching and caring for young children.

Mrs. Marsh was a member of the board of trustees of the St. Mary’s County Library from 1997 until her illness prevented her from serving. She also was a member and secretary of the Three Oaks Center. She and her husband shared a love of gardening, and both earned a Master Gardener certification. Mrs. Marsh was past-president of the St. Mary’s County Garden Club, and the Breton Bay Civic Association and Breton Bay Garden Club. She was a member of Rotary, and volunteered at Sotterley Plantation and many other charitable organizations in the county.

Mrs. Marsh was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Newtowne, where she served on the Parish Pastoral Council. She also coordinated the Altar Society, and was one of the parish quilters, working each year on a quilt to raise funds for the parish.

Survivors include her four children, Lynn Marsh Freeman, Julia Marsh Brown, and James K. Marsh of Washington, D.C.; Patricia Marsh Dehoorne of Chelsea, Michigan; and nine grandchildren.

The family will receive friends on Friday, September 18, 2015, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Brinsfield Funeral Home, 22955 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown, MD 20650. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, September 19, 2015, at 11:00 am, at St. Francis Xavier Church, 21370 Newtowne Neck Road, Leonardtown, MD 20650.

Contributions in memory of Mrs. Marsh may be made to Friends of Newtowne Manor House, 21370 Newtowne Neck Road, Leonardtown, MD 20650, Friends of St. Mary’s County Library, P.O. Box 165, Leonardtown, MD 20650, or Hospice of St. Mary’s, P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, MD 20650.

Condolences may be made to

Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown, MD.