Cowboy rides off into the sunset
|By Sue Tiffin - Staff Writer | August 13, 2015|
When there’s a meal at the Kosy Korner named for you, you know you are an iconic Haliburtonian.
Gerald Marshall, or Cowboy as he was often known around town, didn’t even have to order the ‘Cowboy Special’ on his regular visits to the Kosy. The waitresses knew what to get him when they saw him park his carriage outside the restaurant four or five times a week. He was a fan of two eggs over easy, two scoops of mashed potatoes with gravy, and water.
“It’s very rare he went a day without visiting,” said Tracy Morrison. “He’d say, ‘you’ll miss me when I’m gone!’”
The waitresses – and so many of his other friends – do miss Marshall. The 84-year-old Mountain Street resident passed away on July 29.
Marshall became a resident of Haliburton almost 30 years ago, when he arrived in the Minden area from Toronto and started being supported by Dawn Brohman, a social worker. Brohman helped Marshall settle in Haliburton, and helped advocate and care for him for more than 20 years.
“He was really an icon, definitely a special part of the community,” said Brohman.
Initially, Brohman said the outgoing and friendly Marshall, who she said was a real character, might have taken some people aback. But soon he became well-known for his generous spirit and goodwill.
“This community is a very loving and inclusive community,” she said. “I think people knew and recognized him as a special person and went out of their way to get to know him. The community was just so relaxed with him.”
Marshall was very active with the Baptist church and was a strong supporter at the 4C’s, where he would help lift, carry and load bags. When celebrating his birthday, he would pick up a cake and bring it there to share. He was known to shovel walkways for those who needed the extra hand, and his annual Christmas cards are legendary.
“He collected Christmas cards by the thousands, and delivered hundreds and hundreds of cards to people and businesses each year,” said Brohman. “Sometimes he’d forget he had delivered one to someone and so he’d go back and deliver another the next day. He just had a wonderful spirit.”
Marshall’s enthusiasm to help anyone in need was matched by the community in return. Local businesses would greet him with a gift at Christmas, and when a fire destroyed his apartment, people were quick to step forward and help him to get reestablished.
“He had a heart of gold and just loved to socialize,” said Brohman.
The waitresses at the Kosy said their Cowboy and his Pony – his pet name for the carriage he was usually seen pushing in front of him – were a part of their daily lives. They said he was always friendly, and often called them ‘sweetheart.’
“He always told us to be good,” said Thalia Nash. “It’s just weird now, just like… something’s missing.”
Brohman retired a few years ago but was by Marshall’s side when he died as a result of a stroke.
“I was with him, and honoured to be with him,” she said.
A photo of Marshall shared on Facebook by Trudy Bacon was shared 84 times not long after it was posted online.
“He will be missed,” wrote Gord Kidd. “Always part of Haliburton’s unique personality.”
“So sorry to see a Haliburton icon pass,” wrote Jean Clegg. “He was certainly one of a kind.”
Many residents spoke to Marshall’s kind heart, hardworking demeanour and presence in town.
“Sad to see Cowboy ride into the sunset,” wrote Laurie Jones. “The whole town will miss him.”
Brohman said Marshall will be buried in Toronto alongside his mom, and that a public celebration of life would be an ideal tribute to a man who made such a contribution to the community.
“People will just miss him,” she said. “Many people loved him, and he was an essential part of the community.”
SUE TIFFIN is a reporter for The Highlander.