Ansel Marshall

Died: Sun., Mar. 15, 2015


Celebration of Life

1:00 PM Sat., Apr. 04, 2015
Location: Whiterock Cowboy Fellowship


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Music by The Piano Brothers



Ansel Noble Marshall, 100 years old, still of sound mind and his gentle wit, passed away peacefully at his home in Bend, Oregon with his wife Cyndy at his side on March 15, 2015

Ansel was born at his grandparents homestead in Troy, Iowa practically horseback. With his father making his living with horses, being a freighter and then as a race horse trainer, the Marshall family traveled and lived many places west of the Mississippi. Ansel became the family jockey at age 13, after his older brother’s death. They raced all over, up and down the west coast from Vancouver BC to Tijuana, MX. Ansel had many wins and track records; he raced with the legends Johnny Longden, Georgie Woolf, Eddie Arcaro, and Red Pollard. In 1935 he gave up the irons, and went to training race horses and working all facets of the industry. In 1938, Ansel found himself training race horses on the breeding farm of J.D. Spreckles III in Prineville, OR. There he met the love of his life Martina Wilkes, they were married in 1940 in Yuma, AZ in between race meets. While still working the tracks and training horses in SoCal, their son Terry Van was born in 1942. Ansel and Martina enjoyed 64 years of marriage and many, many gatherings with friends.

In 1944, tired of the vagabond lifestyle of horse racing, Ansel, who always dreamed of owning a ranch, purchased a 40 acre, 5000 head, “turkey” ranch in Redmond, OR. After 2 years of trying to keep turkeys alive and the coyotes at bay … Ansel decided raising turkeys was for the birds, sold out and purchased a cattle ranch on the north side of Malheur Lake at Lawen, OR in Harney County. In following years they purchased rest of the Hayes ranch north of the reservation on the Silvies River.  Ranching and raising fine AQHA horses was his passion for another 60 years. Ansel continued to train a few race horses, made lots of fine cowhorses and rope horses. He bragged of draggin more than 10,000 calves to the fire over the years.

Ansel never had an enemy, maybe a few neighbors unhappy with his fences or the lack there of… he never knew a stranger. Ansel was very involved in the community; he helped bring the Harney Electric Coop lines to Lawen and Crane by gathering signatures while selling insurance door to door (ranch to ranch :-), he served on the Crane School Board and the Harney County Fair Board in different many capacities. He proudly served as Fairboard President in 1957 and 1958, and was honored to serve as Grand Marshall in 1989. Ansel said “I’ve been a Marshall all my life, but that was the first I’d ever been a Grand Marshall”. Ansel was also honored to attend the 2014 HC Fair Banquet and to be honored as the oldest living Grand Marshall. Ansel gave selflessly to help many a 4-H’er with their horses. Over the years, the Marshall ranch was home to many young men who lived and worked with Ansel to learn his special way with horses.

Ansel loved to tell his stories; ranging from the family losing everything in 1920 and traveling by covered wagon to TX. and camping out of it for 2 yrs to start over, traveling in box cars with race horses up and down the west coast, flying with Stuart Hamblen’s horse for the maiden flight of a race horse on the west coast, shooting geese on his Lawen ranch with Gary Cooper, and his escapades as a young jockey. He continued sharing those stories right up until his passing.  Ansel will be remembered for his gentle spirit, willingness to help anyone in need and quick wit and sense of humor.

During the 60’s and 70’s of Martina’s many years as a top producing  Avon District Manager, the Marshall’s kept a 2nd home in Klamath Falls as her distribution base. During the early 80’s that home was sold and the rural Bend property was purchased. While keeping their strong ties to Harney County, Ansel and Martina sold most of the ranch and retired to Bend in the early 90’s, continuing their breeding program and selling their fine horses. Their son Terry joined them in Bend during the late 90’s, helping with marketing and care of the property. Ansel was still caring for and feeding his horses until 2012.

Following Martina’s death in 2004 and son Terry’s untimely death a few months later, Ansel married Cyndy Coleman, longtime friend and fellow rancher from Burns, OR. She brought him great happiness in the last 10 of his 100 years. Together they crossed many items off his bucket list; like attending the Belmont Stakes to see a possible Triple Crown, putting his toes in the beach sands of the Atlantic, seeing Old Faithful, seeing the homestead in Troy, IA where he was born, finding his brother’s grave in SLC, finding former homes in SLC, OK, San Ysidro, and San Bruno, seeing his parents graves for the first time in Chula Vista, CA. and lastly to be able to pass into eternity peacefully at home.  

Loving Jesus and serving Him, was a huge part of Ansel’s 100 years. His Mama taught him to love the Lord as a tiny tyke and he always found a church home where ever he lived. He attended Westside Church of Bend for more than 24 years, and spent his last three years at Whiterock Cowboy Fellowship in Redmond, OR. Neither snow, nor rain or sleet kept 100 yr old Ansel from attending, and when he just couldn’t make it to the last Sunday Service, Pastors Dave and Ramona of Whiterock CF brought their guitars and sang worship at his beside and he just smiled and smiled…

Ansel is survived by his wife Cyndy , of Bend, OR, step son Eric Smith, grandchildren Taylor and Tage Smith of Salem, OR. Almost adopted son, Robert Meck, brother’s in law, Bob Stoy and George Sahlberg, niece Granita Wilkes Russell and husband Tom, and niece Pam Stoy Feely and husband Frank and many many great and great great nieces and nephews. Most of all Ansel is survived by many dear friends who became family, and their children who became grandchildren, they are too numerous to mention.

A Celebration of Life for Ansel Marshall will be held Saturday, April 4th at 1:00PM at Whiterock Cowboy Fellowship, 5247 NE 15th St. Redmond, OR. (2 mi east of Hwy 97, off the O’Neil Hwy) In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Ansel’s memory to the Harney County 4-H, c/o Lafollette’s Chapel, PO Box488, Burns, OR 97720.

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