MILLBROOK – The residents of Millbrook are mourning the loss of yet another prominent citizen as former chief Stephen Marshall Sr. was laid to rest on Thursday morning.
“It has definitely left a hole in Millbrook’s heart,” said Corrina Smiley, a Millbrook resident, moments before Marshall’s funeral began under a cloudy sky yesterday.
Marshall, 70, died on Sunday and had battled cancer. He was chief of the community from 1984 to 1985 and had been on council for a few terms since then.
Countless stories of Marshall’s compassion and humour were shared before, during and after the funeral, which was attended by an estimated few hundred people. Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Millbrook was filled to capacity, with people also standing all along the back of the church and others listening outside and in the nearby community hall.
“He was non-judgmental and showed unconditional love. He helped single parents and people who were turned away by the system. He was very much a humanitarian,” said Smiley. “He was like a grandfather eagle, taking everyone under his wing … he was gentle, heart-oriented and always cracking jokes.”
Shubenacadie’s Dave Nevin said he knew Marshall for more than 20 years and used to enjoy having tea with Marshall and his mother.
“Him and his mom, you always knew where you stood with them; they told you what they thought. What I got from his family is to be upfront and honest. I believe that was taught to him at an early age,” said Nevin. “He was very helpful and looked out for everyone, whether you were in his community or not.”
Bible Hill’s Suzette MacLeod said, like many others, she was surprised to hear of Marshall’s sudden passing.
“He was very sick, very suddenly,” MacLeod said, adding she remembers numerous heart-warming qualities of the elder.
“He was always cheerful, had a good sense of humour, and was always concerned about how you were doing. He was well liked and always on the go,” she said, adding it taught her to “enjoy things and do what you can while you can.”
Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade, who only this year ran against – and defeated – Marshall for the community’s top political position, said Marshall’s death is difficult to accept, especially after the recent death of former chief Lawrence Paul and other community elders.
“Stephen was a role model in the community. He had a flooring business and a tobacco store … and he strongly supported aboriginal rights, especially fishing and hunting. We’ve lost a lot in the community but despite all the loss it brings the community together,” said Gloade.