Remembering Dr. Wil Marston

Retired professor Dr. Wil Marston broadened minds


CHESANING, Michigan -- Wil Marston wanted to immerse his University of Michigan-
Flint students into different cultures.

In the 1980s he took his sociology students on a field trip to Toronto. The rules were
simple: Don't go to familiar chain restaurants and learn about local people and their view
of the world.

That's what many former students remember most about Marston, 72, of Chesaning, who
died of a massive heart attack on Thursday, said his wife, Deborah Marston

"He wanted them to learn about the different people that were there rather than just going
as tourists," said Marston, 49. "Toronto was a diverse city. They learned how to become
citizens of the larger world."

As a sociologist professor, Wil Marston was interested in learning about the misfortunate,
family said. Marston, who was a professor at UM-Flint for 29 years, retired in 1999.

He often would bring his sociology background home, said son, Matthew Marston.
Wil Marston would preach the ways of the past and how important it was to learn about
other people, his son said.

"He showed us good things from America," said Matthew Marston, 44, who now lives in
London as a singer/songwriter. "He talked about life from the past. I think he did it in a
way that didn't get on your nerves."

He also would ride his bike around Chesaning, and wave to everyone he saw, his wife

"Most people didn't even know his name, just as the guy with a big mustache with the
bike," Deborah Marston said. "He was a kind, generous and loving man. He liked to learn
about other people. He never talked about himself. He always asked questions about
people's lives."

Wil and Deborah Marston have been married for about 10 years. They met when she was
a student in a class that he taught. Three weeks after the class ended, he called her up and
asked her out. They've been together ever since, she said.

Deborah Marston also will remember her husband by their political debates.

"He tended to be a little liberal, and I tend to be conservative," she said. "We had some
pretty healthy debates."

Dr. Marston passed away suddenly Thursday morning, September 25, 2008 at his home.

by David Harris | The Flint Journal
Sunday September 28, 2008