BY JAMES HARPER
Bessie Carol Marshall was many things to different people.
The life of “BC,’’ as she was fondly called by many, was remembered Oct. 12 at Bethune-Cookman University’s Gertrude Heyn Memorial Chapel, a place she attended many times while a student at the school.
Marshall, an educator, coach, dance instructor, friend and supportive family member died on Oct. 3 after battling a long illness.
“She was a model of what we wanted to be. She loved unselfishly. She gave new meaning to the art of dance to brown girls and girls of all hues,” said Tammy Nunn Haynie, a member of her mentor’s popular Bessie Marshall Dancers.
“When she walked, she strode. You knew who she was before she walked into the room,” said Haynie.
‘A class act’
Dr. Ardie Dewalt Evans was a lifelong friend of Marshall. She graduated with her in the Campbell High Class of 1954.
“People don’t know how to be friends like we were friends anymore. She was beautiful inside and out,” said Evans.
Colleague Dr. Carolyn Frazier worked 37 years in the school system with Marshall.
“Bessie would say ‘May the work I’ve done speak for me’. She served with dignity, poise and integrity. Bessie Marshall was a class act.’’
Great neighbor, ‘mega aunt’
Neighbor Teresa Battles recalled Marshall as someone you could confide in.
“She never had a bad word about anybody. When I plant a flower from now on, I am going to think about Ms. Bessie,” said Battles.
Nephew Gerald Murphy, who was a popular karate instructor in Daytona Beach before he moved away, couldn’t compose himself as he spoke on behalf of the family.
“I tried to get tears out of my system before this day arrived. I’m crying because my heart is broken,” said Murphy.
Nephew Ron Smith called Marshall a “mega aunt.”
“She was a diva all the time. She was tired. She was in pain,” Smith recalled Marshall telling him before she died.
“She’s at peace now,” he remarked.
‘Guided and led us’
The Rev. Reginald Williams, pastor of Emmanuel Christian Ministries in DeLand, delivered the eulogy.
Williams was a student of Marshall when she worked at Southwestern High School.
“She guided and led us. We came to love her,” he said, adding the students at Southwestern coined the nickname “BC” as a term of endearment for Marshall.
Williams said Marshall knew Jesus.
“Bessie’s sleep right now. BC chose her destiny. She believed in Jesus. She is in a better place,” he concluded.