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News > Deaths & Obituaries > MARSHALL, Sir Michael John

MARSHALL, Sir Michael John

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Sir Michael Marshall, who we sadly lost in 2019
MARSHALL, Sir Michael John

Died on 27 July 2019, aged 87.

The following Obituary was published in The Telegraph, on 7 August 2019:

Sir Michael Marshall, who has died aged 87, was chairman and chief executive of Marshall of Cambridge, the automotive and aerospace business founded by his grandfather; he was also a prominent figure in Cambridgeshire public life and a veteran aviator.

The Marshall group of companies comprises one of the UK’s largest motor dealership chains combined with divisions which service aircraft and supply mobile military equipment and medical systems. In total the group has some 6,000 employees and £2.5 billion of sales.

Michael Marshall took over the leadership of the group from his father in 1989. Astute, hard-working and deeply interested both in people and technology, he presided over an expansion which saw the car sales side expand from four outlets in the 1950s to 30 at its peak.

On the aerospace side, he directed the company’s vital support for the RAF’s Hercules and TriStar fleets during the Falklands and Gulf wars and the conflict in Bosnia, and maintained close personal relationships with US manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin.

Michael John Marshall was born in Cambridge on January 27 1932. He was the son of Sir Arthur Marshall and his wife Rosemary, née Dimsdale, the daughter of a fellow of King’s College and granddaughter of the 6th Baron Dimsdale – a Russian imperial title conferred by Catherine the Great on an English doctor who had inoculated her against smallpox.

Arthur was the son of David Marshall, a former college servant and steward of the Pitt Club who in 1909 had started a chauffeur-driven car business that became Marshall’s Garages. Arthur was a keen flier who developed an aerodrome (now Cambridge International Airport), a flying school and an aircraft maintenance business alongside an expanding garage chain.

During the Second World War, Arthur Marshall had a hand in the training of thousands of RAF aircrew, and in the post-war era his company was involved in many military and civilian aircraft projects, including the design of the droop nose and visor of Concorde.

Michael Marshall was educated at Eton and was commissioned as an RAF pilot for National Service before going to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he read History and stroked the 1954 Boat Race crew which lost to Oxford by four and a half lengths; he went on to row for England in the 1955 European championships.

He joined the family firm in that year, becoming managing director in 1963 and deputy chairman in 1965; he was chief executive until 2010, chairman until 2016, and thereafter president. The car dealership side was separately floated on the Stock Exchange in 2015, with Marshall of Cambridge remaining its majority shareholder.

Michael Marshall was High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1988 and Vice Lord-Lieutenant from 1992 to 2006. He chaired fundraising appeals for Ely Cathedral, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Prince’s Trust, and for the county’s contribution to the 1984 Olympic Appeal. He was a benefactor of Jesus College, the family having donated the original Marshall garage on Jesus Lane for postgraduate accommodation.

He was also involved in numerous industry bodies for the motor trade and manufacturing, and was active in all aspects of air training. Both in business and in public life, he was passionately concerned with helping young people to realise their potential. He was appointed CBE in 1999 and knighted in 2010.

A member of the Royal Air Squadron, Marshall held a private pilot’s licence for 70 years and (with his 75-year-old co-pilot) had planned to fly his single-engined Morane-Saulnier Rallye Minerva to Morocco next month.

He married first, in 1960, Bridget Pollock; the marriage was dissolved in 1977 and he married secondly, in 1979, Sibyl Walkinshaw (née Hutton), who survives him with two sons and two daughters of the first marriage, and two stepsons.

Friend of Tonbridge School and son of Sir Arthur Marshall OBE (HS 1918-1922)

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