October 6: Gwendolyn Hope Marshfield (1998)

A common sight following Epiphany’s 8:00am Sunday Eucharist, that includes a large number of downtown poor, was the petite Gwen Marshfield, smartly attired and wearing one of her signature large hats, attending the Welcome Table breakfast. There she would sit at table breaking bread and conversing with a wide variety of men and women, all of whom seemed to be her friends. A native of Wisconsin, Gwen Marshfield was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She received a master’s degree in social work from the College of William and Mary and worked toward a doctorate in social work at Columbia University. Gwen left elementary school teaching in Pittsburgh and went on to work for the Red Cross in Erie, Pennsylvania just before World War II. She was assigned to the national headquarters in the early 1940s.

Gwen spent her career in youth services, serving as director of Red Cross Youth in Europe from 1959 to 1962. She was responsible for youth programs in 205 American dependent schools in 14 countries. She retired from the headquarters of the American Red Cross in 1985 as director of national youth services. In her retirement, Gwen was a volunteer in many Epiphany programs. Her funeral was held there following her passing in 1998. Gwen’s father and brother were both Episcopal clergy. In a booklet she wrote entitled God’s Interpreters, Gwen wrote the following postscript. “Dedicated to my beloved parents, The Rev. and Mrs. Walter J. Marshfield, who were the first to introduce me to God’s wondrous works and to so influence my interpretation of: What I saw, What I thought, What I heard, What I did that I recognized that life consisted of a relationship to God and to one another and realized that everyone truly was one of God’s interpreters, sometimes interpreting his work in an erroneous way, but ever trying, trying, trying!”

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