She could have been anything, but Roberta “Bobbie” Lee Marshall, 85, of Butler chose to be a mother to many.
In addition to her five biological children, Marshall, who died on August 31, 2018, raised 64 foster children for periods of between one month and over one year, until they could be placed in more permanent homes.
Marshall believed that giving the infants a loving environment could help them grow into a better life, according to her daughter, Susan Tassey of Butler.
“She just had so much love in her heart,” Tassey said. “For the sake of the babies, she gave them such a good start in life.”
Tassey said her mother began caring for the children through Catholic Charities of Butler in 1980.
Tassey said a lot of people remember her mother that way: always having a baby with her until she stopped fostering in 2002, shortly after her second husband's death.
Barry Titler, the husband of another of Marshall's daughters, Beth Titler, said Marshall never backed down from a challenging baby either, like those suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome or were born to drug-addicted mothers. Titler said she continued to fawn over those babies with the same practiced patience as the others. Barry Titler said he'll never forget the moment when he realized to what depth a person could care. It was a conversation he once had with Marshall.
“You know you're among the brightest people I know. In any other age, you could have been a lawyer and a doctor and a scientist, anything you wanted,” Barry Titler said he told his mother-in-law. “She kind of pursed her lips together and looked at me, and she said 'I've been everything I wanted to be. I was a mother, a homemaker, a foster parent. Those are the things important to me.'”
Marshall's family conducted services this week. Many reflected on their relationship, the lessons and guidance of Bobbie Marshall, but most remembered the role she played, the mother to many.
Marshall passed away on August 31 at her daughter's residence in Hershey due to complications associated with ALS.
Read what else Marshall's family had to say in Sunday's Butler Eagle.