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Integrity inspired many


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POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

City Councilwoman Barbara Marshall was remembered yesterday as a journalist who brought her skills at seeking facts and asking hard-hitting questions into a second career as a lawmaker.

Council colleagues and Mayor Mufi Hannemann praised Marshall's integrity at a memorial service attended by about 150 people. Several state legislators and most city department heads attended the pau hana event at the Mission Memorial Auditorium on the City Hall grounds.

"Her tough questioning was not an effort to embarrass anyone; it was to get the right answer, to get around the fluff," said Council Chairman Todd Apo. He said "tough compassion" is his description of her.

The public tribute followed a Saturday funeral service at St. John's Lutheran Church in Kailua for the Windward councilmember, who died Feb. 22 after a long struggle with cancer.

Marshall, 64, had represented Council District 3 (Waimanalo-Kaneohe) since 2003. She was elected in November to a third term and made her last public appearance at the Jan. 2 swearing-in ceremony. After two years as Council chairwoman, she stepped down in November because of continuing treatment for colon cancer.

Hannemann recalled confrontations and after-work sessions with Marshall as they ironed out disagreements.

"She was blunt, candid and spoke her mind," he said. "She kept her word, a premium that is often lost in government service."

The mayor described seeing "a little girl in her" when they turned on the switch for the sparkling holiday decorations of Kailua city lights.

Former city Managing Director Jeff Coelho eased the solemn mood, bringing widespread laughter and several raised hands in the crowd when he recalled appearing before the Council and being grilled with her relentless questions. "If you fluffed the facts ... How many of you had that experience?"

The Royal Hawaiian Band Glee Club played soft Hawaiian music as people lined up to greet Marshall's husband, Cliff Ziems; son, Joe Marshall; and other family members. The musicians sang "Honolulu City Lights," one of Marshall's favorites, at an interval in the hourlong service.

An Illinois native, Marshall came to Hawaii in 1979 and worked as reporter, producer and anchor at KHON Channel 2 News for 20 years. She was a broadcast journalist for 35 years.

"She was good at it and she knew it," said city Information Officer Bill Brennan, who talked about working with Marshall at the television station. "She didn't care if she was popular. ... She brought energy and enthusiasm to her job every day. She brought that same sense as a public servant, to contribute a better understanding of the issues of the day."