For nearly 25 years, Jonathan Marshall’s Scottsdale Progress chronicled exactly that, Scottsdale’s progress, although the liberal editor and publisher was often at odds with the city’s comparatively conservative leaders, and especially the late former Mayor Herb Drinkwater, who supported encouraging Valley growth.
A well-spoken man of intellect, idealism and dignity — his employees referred to him either in the first person or the third as Mr. Marshall — his death Saturday at 84 is a great loss for the city he served and for the many causes he championed.
For example, Marshall the crusader hired his own investigative reporter to conduct an independent probe into the 1976 car-bombing death of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles. Marshall also fought for expanding the public’s right to know through changes in the Arizona Open Meeting Law.
Marshall the citizen took up a challenge few Arizonans of any era would see as anything but folly: Running against the legendary Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., in 1974. Marshall, a Democrat, lost but not by as much as many had predicted.
And Marshall the writer was prolific, to say the least. At a memorial service for him Tuesday, it was said that he had written more than 12,000 editorials for the Progress and later in a blog called “The Marshall Memo.”
After selling the Progress in 1987, Marshall and his wife, Maxine, continued to be active in civic affairs, creating the Marshall Fund of Arizona, which paid several million dollars to support several educational, cultural and philanthropic causes.
The Marshalls had also endowed an annual lecture at Gammage Auditorium at Arizona State University, usually delivered by a high-profile journalist or author.
As what its nameplate called “Your Award-Winning Hometown Newspaper” and its successors pass into history, Jonathan Marshall’s contributions to the profession of journalism are more than worthy of the Valley’s continued remembrance and respect.