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Couple enjoys simpler things

Staff writer

For 30 years, Paul Marsh of rural Hillsboro worked as an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., traveling the world in search of strange, rare, and unidentified insects. His wife, Jennie Marsh, who grew up in the Hillsboro area, also worked in Washington as an encoding/decoding specialist for the FBI.

“When I left here after a year at Tabor College, it was expected to get married and have a baby right away, but I wanted to have a career,” Jennie Marsh said. “I felt I should have some adventures in my life, so I did.”

Adventures in China, Poland, Japan, Hungary, Korea, Egypt, and many other places kept the Marsh couple on the move for many years. Now they are enjoying the peace and quiet of retirement near Hillsboro, near Jennie’s family roots.

“We’ve lived on the west coast and on the east coast,” Jennie said. “People thought we were crazy to want to retire in Kansas, but we were ready for a simpler way of life.”

While she once rubbed elbows with foreign dignitaries, decoded messages during the Cuban Missile Crisis, met with congressional leaders like Zig Ziegler, and sat at tables with presidents like John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, Jennie Marsh now enjoys designing quilts and creating scrapbook memory pages.

“I design all my own quilts. I don’t use patterns,” she said. “I like to use fabric from all the different places we’ve traveled. That was something I have always done, and still do — pick up fabric from the places we travel. Now I like to incorporate it into quilts.”

Marsh makes quilts for her own enjoyment as well as for the couples’ two grown children and two grandchildren.

“We have a daughter married with two children near Baltimore, and a married son in St. Louis,” she said. “We enjoy traveling to visit them.”

Though he is retired from work at the Smithsonian Institute, Paul Marsh still carries on with insect identification and study, supported by a grant from the University of Illinois. A basement lab in his rural Hillsboro home is lined with file drawers of wooden trays holding hundreds of different insect specimens. A bright light, high-powered microscope, and tiny dissection tools are the main tools of his trade.

“Right now I’m studying parasitic wasps from Costa Rica,” he said. “I love this work and am working with a colleague under a grant from the National Science Foundation to identify the differences in these tiny wasps.”

In 30 years of entomology work, Marsh published 90 reports in scientific journals. He is working on an identification manual that will be published as a hard-back book.

“This is an identification service for other scientists to follow,” he said. “I am detailing my findings on the different leg types, the colors on the spines; there is a lot to look at.”

In addition to quilting and insect identification, the Marshes enjoy refinishing old furniture, visiting friends, cooking (if they feel like it), and shopping.

“God brings things into our lives,” Jennie said. “We don’t have to earn approval by being busy. Christ is in us and that has quickened our lives as we wait for his return.”

Jennie said their travels opened spiritual doors that are still very important in their simpler Kansas lifestyle.

“I met a pastor in Laramie, Wyo., once who helped me understand how Christ is in us,” Jennie said. “That is what we base our life on. It is in Galatians 2:20 in the Bible. ‘Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ That is what is important.”

Last modified July 18, 2012

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