April 4, 2002 – Word was received in the Virgin Islands Thursday of the death of Michael C. Marden, who served as legal counsel to the V.I. Legislature in the 1980s and later as special assistant to Governors Alexander Farrelly and Roy Schneider.
Marden, 54, died Wednesday in San Francisco, Calif., of cancer.
Memorial services will be held in San Francisco, in Independence, Kan., and on St. Thomas. The St. Thomas service is tentatively set for May 4.
Marden was born in Hutchinson, Kan. He seemed destined for a political career from early on, subscribing to The Congressional Quarterly at the age of 14. As a teen-ager, he would visit the office of his home district congressman, Joseph Skubitz, to discuss issues.
For a couple of years, following his father's lead, "I was a raging Republican," he said while reminiscing with a friend not long ago. "I went to school with black pants and a gold-striped sport shirt saying 'Vote for Barry Goldwater.' And the day Goldwater was defeated, I went to school wearing all black and a black armband."
By the age of 20, however, he had registered as a Democrat and become enamored of Robert Kennedy. He enrolled at the University of Maryland and began working for Skubitz in Washington. He transferred to the University of Kansas, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1969. That was a politically calculated move, he said — he was thinking of running for Congress and figured it would help to be a UK graduate.
Instead, he returned to Washington to work for Skubitz while attending law school at the University of Maryland at night. He stayed on Skubitz's staff for 12 years, rising from envelope-stuffer to administrative assistant in charge of running the representative's office. In 1973, he became Republican chief counsel to the House Interior Committee, on which Skubitz served.
He first visited the Virgin Islands with Rep. Philip Burton in 1977. He was interviewed by Earle B. Ottley and Elmo D. Roebuck at the home of Ralph Paiewonsky then met with other senators, after which he was offered a job on the spot as legal counsel to the Legislature.
At the end of 1983, he relocated to San Francisco. But he returned in early 1987, soon after Farrelly took office, to become special assistant to the governor for legislative issues and governmental reorganization. He was in the territory periodically during Farrelly's first term but worked virtually full time in the governor's second term on political and legislative matters.
He was a political strategist and speech writer for Schneider's 1994 gubernatorial campaign, teaming up with Walter Brunner, then became a special assistant to Schneider. He left the territory in 1997 but returned in 1998 to work on Schneiders unsuccessful re-election campaign. After Schneiders defeat, he returned to San Francisco permanently, although he stayed in touch with many friends in the Virgin Islands.
Marden was diagnosed in August 2001 with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. He died Wednesday at his home in San Francisco.
He is survived by his parents, Charles and Betty Marden of Independence, Mo.; his sisters, Beverly Goode of Independence and Linda Marden of Memphis, Tenn.; and his brother, John Marden of Jefferson City, Mo.
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