Marshall Marie Phillips McVadon, age 84, died Sunday, January 3, 2021 after complications from a hemorrhagic stroke she suffered Dec. 23.
She was born in 1936 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and grew up the only child of Marshall Mumford Phillips and Dorothy Rex Phillips. She went to LSU before marrying her high school sweetheart Eric (Alton) and starting a family. Their epic 64-year marriage was legendary; they travelled all over the world during his 35-year Naval career. Her children were born in New Orleans, Pensacola, San Diego, Honolulu and Key West.
Marshall came to epitomize the archetype “Navy Wife” as she was up for any adventure, faced hardships with a smile, and handled the long times of separation without complaint. She was truly the rock that supported and enabled Eric’s success as a Navy pilot all the way to becoming a two-star admiral.
When Eric was deployed to Japan in the early 60s, in an era when most wives stayed behind, she took her young family by herself on a ship from Honolulu to Yokohama. Later that decade Marshall went to Europe for six weeks, following Eric’s ship from port to port in the Mediterranean. She had such an incredible adventure, she went back again in ‘68, this time for eight weeks! Her independence was her hallmark: she did it her way.
Later in life Marshall’s grace and poise lent themselves well to the challenges of being a diplomat’s wife, once hosting a tea for Barbara Bush at their home in Iceland. She carried her warmth and hospitality to Beijing, China, where she and Eric spent their final two years in Navy service. She made an indelible impression on all she met, creating many lifelong friendships. She continued to foster these relationships with visits to Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and Zimbabwe, to name just a few.
Marshall was known for her feisty personality and strength of character. She never backed down and defended her family fiercely. Her brand of straight talk endeared her to everyone from her children’s friends to foreign military officials. She would feed anyone who came near her. She was the glue of the family, keeping them close despite the constant moving.
For the past 28 years, post-Navy, Marshall lived in Great Falls, Virginia, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. When Eric was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease more than a decade ago, Marshall again was not fazed. She became his chief caregiver and managed the household so that he could stay home.
She is survived by her husband, Rear Admiral (retired) Eric Alton McVadon, USN of Great Falls, VA; her five children, Douglas R. McVadon (Melinda) of Charlotte, NC; Michelle M. McVadon of Seattle, WA; Erin McVadon Albright (James) of Alexandria, VA; Scott E. McVadon of Sterling, VA; and Captain Kevin A. McVadon, USN (Yvette) of Leesburg, VA; seven grandchildren, Manuel, Alberto, and Eduardo Albright, Elena and Logan McVadon, Dakota Belle Witt, and Meredith McVadon; four great grandchildren, Miguel, Karla, Patrick Alexander and Daniela; and one great-great grandchild, Robin.
An online Celebration of Life will be scheduled for a later date.
Her ashes will be interred at a future date to be determined at Arlington National Cemetery, where she will await her husband.