Family with Local Roots Supports Tech

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

A family with extensive ties to the Keweenaw has become a major benefactor of Michigan Tech and its students.

The University has received estate gift funds of nearly $700,000 from the family of Robert, Rex and Paul Marshall, brothers and business partners, to support the Marshall Family Endowed Scholarship Fund for engineering students who demonstrate financial need and scholastic achievement.

Robert Marshall earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1942 and founded the Aluminum Supply Company in Detroit in 1948.

The business specializes in aluminum building products. Later, the family founded Marshall Sales Inc., a marketer and distributor of industrial fasteners. The two operations are now part of the Marshall Holding Company.

Rex Marshall also attended Tech, for two years. Based on the family's "experience and education at Michigan Tech," another brother, Paul, was also loyal to the University because of its part in the success of the company.

Rex Marshall had 12 children who grew up in Eagle Harbor, where they still have a home, and went to school in Calumet in the 1960s and 1970s.

One of Rex Marshall's daughters, Phyllis Clevenger, says of the three brothers' philanthropy, "They were committed to family, community and Tech. They wanted to give back and provide educational opportunity for those in need."

Other Marshalls have also attended Michigan Tech. Rex's wife, Marilyn, attended for two years; Rex's daughter, Kerry Marshall LaPointe, graduated in 1991 with a degree in scientific and technical communication; and Rex's grandson, James Clevenger, is a freshman in mechanical engineering this year.

Robert Marshall died in 1998; Paul died in 2003; and Rex died in 2007. Only Rex had children; all 12 of them have worked at the family's company. Currently, Nancy Marshall is president and CEO.

Besides the family sending students to Tech, and now supporting others, the company has supplied architectural metal roofing for various buildings on campus.

"There's really quite a connection between the Marshall family and Michigan Tech," says Sue Wierzbicki, another of Rex's daughters.

In 2007, the Marshall's company, which employs nearly 50 workers, won a national award as a model family business from the US Small Business Administration.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.