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Fragile Teacups Provide Lasting Memorial

Evelyn Ryan
The Dominion Post

August 2002

Fragile bone china teacups have become a lasting memorial to the wife of a Morgantown native who died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.

Donn Marshall vowed that he would maintain the spirit of his 37-year-old wife, Shelley, through a different type of memorial, one that would share her with young and old alike.

That memorial, he decided, would focus on two of her favorite things -- a fresh-brewed cup of tea and reading to her children -- at her real hometown, Vienna, Va., and adopted hometown, Morgantown.

Tea parties for residents of nursing homes, like Sundale in Morgantown. Story times at public libraries.

But the tea parties have affected more people than just those at the two nursing homes where the parties are held.

More than 150 decorated porcelain teacups have been donated by people to use in serving tea -- some so translucent you can see the pattern from the inside. Patterns range from the frilly floral to gold bands to formal stripes. There's shamrocks for the Ir ish; a Scotsman (with golf club) for the Scots.

One set was made in occupied Japan after World War II. Ware made in England and Germany arrived. Turn the cup or saucer over, and you can see the names of many noted porcelain makers -- including Shelley China, England.

A sampling of the teacups donated for the Shelley A. Marshall Foundation tea parties can be seen this week on the street level of the Seneca Center. The exhibit closes Friday afternoon.

Barbara Kaplowitz of Oakland Gardens, N.Y., contributed cups in memory of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority police officers who died in the World Trade Center collapse.

A cup set made by Haviland of France came from Ashley B. Hamilton and Ashley E. O'Keefe, both of Morgantown. Sally Moore, in California, sends cups.

A card signed simply, "In memory of Helen, Anonymous," sits next to a cup and saucer decorated in brilliant pattern of flowers on a black background. It's the "Fireweed" pattern of Royal Albert's Provincial Flowers line.

Marshall said the set had been a gift from Helen, who died of cancer, to her anonymous friend. When the friend heard of his plans for tea parties, she sent him the cup. "Whenever I hand it to a senior, I tell them about Helen," Marshall said.

Marshall's mother, Phyllis Marshall, of Morgantown, said they would like to gather enough teacups so that a set could stay in Virginia and another remain in Morgantown. "And we wouldn't have to worry about transporting them," she said.

The donations have come from "all over," Marshall said. "We got a few from Yorkshire, Canada, Australia -- all over the United States."
He's got another plan to continue sharing Shelley's love of tea and tea parties -- a limited edition Shelley Marshall teacup.

A sample of the very first cup is part of the display. Marshall said he helped create the design, a dragonfly over a pond of pink waterlillies.

The cups, priced between $30-35, will be ready by Shelley's birthday, Nov. 16. They will debut on her birthday at a Washington tea party and arrive in Morgantown Nov. 23 for a tea party at her second, adopted, hometown.

He chose a dragonfly for the first cup because Shelley "for some reason got into dragonflies during the summer of 2001." Dragonflies are believed to be the oldest of Earth's living creatures, having predated the dinosaurs.

Contributions to the Shelley Foundation may be made to "The Shelley A. Marshall Foundation -- GMCT" and mailed to The Shelley A. Marshall Fund, P.O. Box 409, Morgantown, WV 26507. Contributions are tax-deductible. More information about the foundation on the web at www.shelleysfoundation.org.
Copyright 2005 © The Shelley A. Marshall Foundation
14 Ryan Court
Shepardstown, WV 25443

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