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Marschall, John Peter

Sept. 21, 2016

John Peter Marschall passed away in his home in the early morning hours of September 21, 2016 after a long and determined fight with cancer. He was 82.

John was born on December 11, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois to Leonard and Clara Marschall. He attended St. Francis Xavier Grammar School in La Grange and then Fenwick High School in Oak Park where he excelled on the diving team. John then entered Fournier where he graduated from high school and studied engineering his first year of college.

John went on to receive his bachelor's degree in philosophy and physics from Loyola University, conducted graduate work in theology at the Viatorian Seminary in Evanston, and received his master's degree in history and philosophy at St. Louis University in 1961.

In 1963 and 64, John studied language and archival research in Rome, Louvain, Munich, London, Dublin, Paris and Grenoble before earning his PH.D. of history and constitutional law at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. in 1965.

Suffice it to say, John had a love for learning that engaged him all of his life. He also loved to travel, taking many trips with friends and family to Europe. Prior to each trip, John would embark on a crash course in the language of the country to be visited. He took pride in engaging locals in their native tongue, whether it be French, Italian, Spanish or German. This reflected his deep respect for differences whether they be cultural, linguistical, religious or political.

Even in his final days, John was discussing theology and politics with friends, and when alone, was studying various wind speeds and directions using an ornamental weather vane outside his window. And his friends were many and varied, with some stemming from his early childhood.

In 1968 John was sent by the Catholic Church to serve at Our Lady of Wisdom in Reno, Nevada where he would help establish a Newman Center called The Center for Religion and Life in the hope of engaging university students as well as community members to think about religion in a richer way.

John grew spiritually and professionally during this time and soon determined that he had to change his role in the Catholic Church from priest to parishioner.

On July 22, 1972 he married Rita Cody who was with him from that day until the day he died, serving as his caretaker and his intellectual and life partner until the end.

In 1980 John went from being a part-time lecturer at the University of Nevada, Reno to serving as an Associate Professor in the History Department. He would go on to become an Assistant to the President and then Associate Vice President for Student Life.

John returned to full time teaching in 1994 until his retirement in 2002.

John loved teaching and the university. His final contribution to learning was to donate his body to the School of Medicine in an effort to advance knowledge.

Following retirement, John began compiling decades of his own research on Jews in Nevada and authored a book of that title that was published in 2008.

From the time he arrived in Reno, John was captivated by the area's outdoors. He loved the clear waters of Lake Tahoe and the mysterious beauty of the desert. He loved exercise and had a fierce sense of competition when it came to swimming, tennis, squash, sailing and golf, whether he was playing against others or against himself.

John's competitive spirit was present until his final days. He was not afraid of the end of his life, but was determined to squeeze as many seconds out of it as possible before conceding.

He is survived by his wife, Rita; sisters Carolyn (King) and Judy (O'Hara); son Peter (Kelly); daughter, Sarah Marschall-Niswonger (Rich), and grandchildren Emily and John Marschall-Niswonger.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be announced soon. For information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the John and Rita Marschall Family History Scholarship Endowment.(Checks can be made out to the UNR Foundation, Mail Stop 162, Reno NV 89557 or online at (Fund # 175564 in the subject line).

John CORPUS in 1980.