Bath taps long-time volunteer as Heritage Days parade marshal

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BATH — John Marsh feels someone else should have been named grand marshal of this year’s Heritage Days parade.

“There are better people out there, I’m sure,” he said with a smile during an interview June 24.

Nonetheless, it’s an honor the 65-year-old expects to enjoy when his family – including three grandchildren from Sweden, who call him “far-far” (“father’s father”) – watches him lead the Independence Day procession through downtown.

“Bath has a wonderful Heritage Days celebration; a great parade,” Marsh said. “It’s quite an honor to be able to lead that great parade in the city of Bath.”

Since Marsh and wife Anne moved to the City of Ships from New Jersey in 1975 he has been a consumer and commercial lender officer at Bath Savings Institution, where he is about to retire.

Their move also launched Marsh into community service.

“I’ve been a treasurer of almost everything around town,” he said at his office, which offers a grand view of Front Street.

Marsh has held the purse strings for the United Voice Community Land Trust, Sagadahoc Preservation, Bath Rotary Club (also club president), Main Street Bath, Patten Free Library, the Bath Area Chamber of Commerce, and Bath Childcare Services.

He has been a volunteer at Oak Street Co-Op, Tedford Homeless Shelter, the Genesis Community Loan Fund, and United Way of Midcoast Maine, and his work with the city includes the Bath Development Corp., Waterfront Park, Housing Loan Review and Community Development committees.

Gov. Paul LePage in 2014 also appointed Marsh as commissioner of the Maine State Housing Authority, a position the banker still holds.

On top of that, he and his wife also make their own award-winning barbecue sauce, Tallywaggers, which is sold up and down the coast.

Becky Welsh, chairwoman of the Heritage Days Parade, said Marsh was chosen as grand marshal “because over his 40 years at Bath Savings he not only gave his time, but also gave his heart and spirit. We are excited to honor John for his commitment to our community.”

Asked what inspired him to become involved in so many community organizations, many at the same time, Marsh quickly answered with a chuckle, “Nothing; it just happened.”

He was asked to climb aboard, and just said yes.

“It really gives me an opportunity to get out into the community,” Marsh said, noting that while he got to know “a whole community of people” in Sagadahoc, Cumberland and Lincoln counties on a business level, “through the nonprofits it’s a whole different perspective.”

“The strength of our communities relies on, in my belief, our nonprofits,” he said. “The museums, the libraries, all the cultural events, bring people into the community, and they see how strong a community is. … They come in and make this their home and, as a result, the businesses thrive, and if (they) thrive, they get to give more back into the community, to support the nonprofits.”

“It’s a big circle,” Marsh added. “… It’s the right thing to do, to be out there and make Bath a better place to live and work.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

John Marsh, a longtime banker and community volunteer in Bath, is grand marshal of this year’s Heritage Days parade.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.