Students know the university’s motto: Education for life, experience of a lifetime. But 1929 graduate Mary Alice Marshall was determined to let her lessons run further into a lifetime than most.
The memories of her college days might seemingly remain a blur at the age of 104, making her the oldest living Crusader. Still, the Temple resident remembers her time at Baylor Female College as if it were yesterday.
“I had some very happy years there.” Marshall said as she thought back to her most interesting stories.
“I was president of the student body my senior year,” she said.
Upon her election as class president, she and the former student body president attended a national conference for leadership where she spent her evenings talking up Baylor College, persuading a mass crowd to visit the campus after permission from then president Dr. J.C. Hardy.
“That was the year Luther Hall burned down,” she said. “So we didn’t get to entertain (our guests).”
Although her days on campus included one of the campus’ most devastating events, she enjoyed them.
“Martha, my roommate, and I would go (to Luther) an hour before dinner, and I would play the piano, and she would sing,” Marshall said. “We did that a lot of evenings.”
Born and raised in New Boston, Texas, Marshall began her studies at Baylor Female College in 1925 where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in music education.
Following graduation, she readily received a top position in Kingsville’s public schools.
“I was the music supervisor,” she said. “I would go to the elementary school in the morning and the high school in the afternoon.”
She married the district’s superintendent, Robert Marshall, and had two children. Together they moved around Texas until settling in Temple in 1944.
Marshal went on to earn her master’s at Baylor University.
“I’m indebted to the old Methodists, but it’s interesting that I’ve gone to two Baptist schools,” Marshall said. “Everyone on campus knew I was Methodist.”
Even President Hardy referred to her as “the little Methodist girl.”
Although her religious beliefs differed from most students on campus, she does not regret her decision to attend.
“I really believe that my leadership that I have was developed at Baylor Female College,” Marshall said.
Her presidency offered many leadership advantages After a decade in Temple, she earned a top position as the head of the music department at Temple College where she worked for 18 years.
After nearly eight decades of post-graduation living, it’s more than just school spirit that keeps Marshall venturing.
“I’ve kept an interest in things,” she said.
In addition to being an active member of her church, Marshall serves on a number of educational and musical committees.
“I think that’s what’s kept me going all these years,” she said.
Staying active is Marshall’s most unkept secret. Her involvement in the university’s traditions and enthusiasm for the ever-changing campus keep her on her toes, but never slows her down.
Her lasting love toward the university does not go unnoticed. The campus as a whole, and more specifically, the Alumni Relations Department, appreciate Marshall’s as well as any other graduates’ involvement.
“It’s (our) determination to get them coming back to campus,” Museum Curator and UMHB alumna Betty Sue Beebe said.
As coordinator for campus history, she strives to stir thoughts and keep the alumni interested in both current and past happenings of the university. She hopes alumni of all ages return to the university to muster up old memories.
Alumni Relations Director Rebecca O’Banion oversees alumni contact through mail, publications, social media and traditional occasions.
“We invite people back for specific events on campus… to be a part of things happening that are still special to them,” O’Banion said.
Through each of these means over many years, both O’Banion and Beebe were able to get to know Marshall on a personal level.
Her “strong love for UMHB and her ability to celebrate the changes and successes” are a couple of the reasons Marshall has a great relationship with the university, O’Banion said.
“I always tell her,” Beebe said, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you.”