John “Jack” O. Marsh, Jr.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Retired Trustee

September 17, 1981 through February 2019

A native of Virginia, Jack was born in Winchester in 1926, attended public schools in Harrisonburg, enlisted in the Army and was commissioned from Officers Candidate School in 1945 at the age of 19. He served with the U.S. Occupation Forces in Germany. He was a member of the Army Reserves and the Virginia National Guard from 1954 to 1976.

Upon Jack’s return from military service he earned a law degree in 1951 from Washington and Lee University and started a law practice in Stasburg, VA. Over the next ten years, Jack would serve his community as Town Attorney of New Market, Shenandoah County School Board, and Strasburg Town Magistrate.

Jack was elected as a Virginia Representative in Congress, serving four terms from 1963-1971. In 1973 Jack was appointed as United States Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs) and in 1974 became Assistant for National Security Affairs to Vice President Gerald R. Ford. After eight months he became Counselor, with Cabinet Rank, to President Ford. At the request of President Ford, Jack chaired the transition of the Ford Administration to the Carter Administration.

In 1981, Jack was sworn in as the Secretary of the Army under President Ronald Reagan. Upon his retirement in 1989, Jack’s tenure was the longest of any Secretary of the Army or Secretary of War in the history of the Republic. After his retirement in 1989 Jack undertook a special assignment as Legislative Counsel to Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney.

From 1998-99, Jack was a Visiting Professor of Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute and from 1999-2000 he was Adjunct Professor of Law at The College of William & Mary. At the time of his death in 2019 he was teaching a course at George Mason University. His wife, Glenn Ann Marsh, preceded him in death in 2015. They had three children and seven grandchildren. Jack Marsh passed away at the age of 92 on February 4, 2019.

Read Oral History Interview with Jack Marsh

2014 Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service

August 15, 1974. President Gerald R. Ford at the swearing in of John “Jack” Marsh as Counsellor to the President in the Cabinet Room at the White House. John Marsh, III looks on. (Photo Courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

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