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Obituary: Marsha Ballif Midgley

1919 ~ 2004

Marsha Ballif Midgley died October 23 in Salt Lake City of natural causes.

Marsha was born to Cora Hansen Ballif and John Lyman Ballif, Jr. on June 19, 1919 in Rexburg, Idaho. The family moved to Salt Lake City in 1923 so her father could attend the University of Utah and teach French. Marsha showed her acting talents early, appearing in the first production in Kingsbury Hall, "The Bluebird," in 1923.

Marsha attended the University of Utah and inherited a love and commitment to the U from her father, who was Dean of Men for many years. She performed in Freshman, Varsity, and Theta Alpha Pi productions and won best acting awards. She participated in many student activities, was a Chi Omega and President of the Associated Women Students, and was proud of being chosen for Beehive, a senior honorary society. She graduated in 1939. After graduation from the U, Marsha married Grant Midgley, had three children, and continued to perform on the Salt Lake stage, playing leading roles in numerous plays such as "Twelfth Night," The Little Foxes," "Othello," and "Saint Joan." She was active in the community, including as Chairman of the Mother's March on Polio, and as a member of the Junior League. She and Grant enjoyed Salt Lake society, politics, the arts, and their friends.

In 1959 the Midgleys moved to Washington, D.C., where they resided until 1986. Marsha continued her community activities there, with the Washington Symphony, United Nations Association, and University of Utah Alumni Association. She received the University of Utah Emeritus Alumni Association's Merit of Honor Award in 1981. She was on the Board of Widening Horizons, whose activities included providing field trips for inner city youth. She also worked on the campaigns of Presidential Candidates John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. Marsha showed visitors the sights of Washington and gained a reputation as master of the quick but complete D.C. tour.

In 1974, Marsha began 10 years of employment for the National 4-H Council as a Washington Program Specialist. She often commented that working with the young people and college students she met at 4-H immeasurably enriched her life. When she retired in 1984, 4-H honored her for "significant contributions enriching the learning experience of more than 200,000 4-H'ers."

Marsha and Grant moved back to Salt Lake in 1986. They continued to enjoy the arts, politics, and their many friends. Marsha again took up community activities, serving on the Utah Museum of Fine Arts Board, Salt Lake City Arts Council, College of Fine Arts Board, City and County Building Conservancy Board, and the University Health Sciences Department's Educational Resource Development Council. She was deeply involved in the renovation of Kingsbury Hall, where she had performed so often and in memory of her parents' long association with the Hall.

Marsha loved her family and friends dearly. Grant passed away just last December but she is survived by her brother John Lyman Ballif III of Provo, daughters Marty McCune of Tucson, Arizona and Jane Midgley of Somerville, Massachusetts, and son John Ballif Midgley and his wife Lynn Greiner and grandchildren Nate and Maya Midgley, all of Seattle, WA.

A memorial service will be held Monday, November 1 at 1:00 p.m. at the White Community Memorial Chapel (150 E. 300 North - directly across from the state capitol). Family and friends are invited to gather after the service at the Town Club, 1081 E. South Temple.

In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to contribute to one of the following: Kingsbury Hall; Health Sciences Scholarships (E.R.D.C.); or University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Any of these contributions may be sent to University of Utah Development Office, 201 Presidents Circle, Room 304, Salt Lake City 84112.