If someone were to ask me my definition of grace I would, without hesitation, reply, my friend, Marsha Slane. I believe God brings people into our lives to show us what love in action looks like and for me, Marsha was one of those remarkable souls.
Since Marsha’s passing I have thought of her often and I keep going back to C. Joybell C.’s reflections on grace, “Grace is what picks me up and lifts my wings and I fly… Grace always conquers.”
You can learn much about a person’s character and heart by observing how they treat their spouse and their children. There was a tenderness and a deep sense of respect you could pick up on immediately when you were in the company of Marsha and her husband, Jack. They were very different personalities who complimented one another so well which made them a formidable team in any endeavor they pursued. Marsha’s daughters, Heath and Landon, and her granddaughter, Lola Grace, were her soulmates, with whom she shared her greatest joys and most of all, a profound and abiding unconditional love.
In my work with Marsha here at the Community Foundation I saw how she embraced the responsibility of community leadership. It was never an entitlement, but instead a privilege through which she could help create transformational change. She led with a gentle hand and a keen sense of vision and purpose. She faithfully championed her projects with eloquent oratory, wise philanthropy and a knack for creating productive partnerships. If she was behind a project you knew it would get done and upon completion, the credit would always go to others. Her joy was never found in recognition, but instead in changing lives.
One thing Marsha could never tolerate was injustice for she believed everyone had God-given inherent value and therefore deserved access, opportunity and respect. She believed in creating just and level playing fields whether it was building strong families, caring for children, or providing access to medical care. She also did not mind rolling up her sleeves and getting into the messiness of life when she believed better solutions could be found and implemented.
Marsha had a knack for identifying and nurturing talent which was best exemplified in her service as a Trustee at High Point University. She and Jack understood the enormous value a world-class university could bring for High Point’s future and they were willing to invest their time, leadership and resources to help make this happen. Marsha also played a key role in recruiting Dr. Qubein, a nontraditional, but ingenious choice to lead HPU, for she recognized the remarkable skills, talents and vision he would bring. She later served as his Chairman (the first woman to do so) during HPU’s most transformational season and until her death, she remained one of Dr. Qubein’s most influential and ardent advocates, teammates and friends.
Marsha will be dearly missed, but she will never be forgotten, as her spirit and passion for this community will be carried forward by the many folks, including me, whom she so generously mentored, guided and believed in. Her faith, courage and amazing grace, which she maintained all the way to the very end, will be her most impacting and lasting legacy. Truly Marsha did indeed “raise her wings and fly…” and in the end, “grace did conquer all…”