He came from a family of entrepreneurs while she studied nursing. Side-by-side, Estel and Mildred "Millie" Marsh created a scholarship to support outstanding students in Ball State's Miller College of Business and the School of Nursing.
"We created the dual scholarship to help students in career fields that meant a lot to us both," recalls Millie, who established the Estel V. and Mildred E. Marsh Scholarship with her late husband in the early 1970s. "We believed it was a good way to financially assist Ball State students and support a community that had been so good to us."
Estel was the youngest of the seven children of Wilmer and Cora Miller Marsh of Ridgeville, Indiana. The couple owned grocery and general merchandise stores in New Pittsburgh and North Salem, Indiana, which were the predecessors to Marsh Supermarkets.
While studying at Ball State, Estel was called home by the family to operate a grocery huckster wagon. He then joined his brothers in owning and operating Marsh stores, and later rose through the ranks at the corporate offices, becoming board chairman and chief executive officer in 1968. He retired in 1977.
Today, Marsh Supermarkets is a Midwest regional food retailer operating about 100 stores throughout Indiana and Ohio.
Throughout his busy career, Estel kept close ties to Ball State, serving as chairman for its national annual fund drive in 1969 and as a member of the Ball State University Foundation Board of Directors from 1960 to 1977. He received the university's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1972 and an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1980 for his outstanding leadership in business, civic, community, and statewide affairs. Estel passed away in 1989 while vacationing in Singapore.
Raised on a farm west of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Millie had a special interest in nursing since she pursued a nursing degree at Methodist Hospital of Fort Wayne. She left school to marry Estel in 1941, but her studies and ongoing interest in nursing have given her a keen understanding of the profession.
"Nursing is hard work and very physically demanding," she says. "You also have to keep up with the latest medical trends while providing ongoing compassionate, hands-on care. I’m proud to say that Ball State has an excellent program to prepare students for this challenging field."
Stacy Saberniak, one of the recipients of the business scholarship, is grateful for the Marshes' generosity.
“To be given this scholarship eased my worries financially and allowed me to focus more on my accounting degree," she says. "It was an honor to me that my hard work was recognized with some financial benefit. Receiving this scholarship helped remind me that we have great individuals in the world wanting to help students succeed in obtaining our degrees."
Learn more about giving to Ball State.