The provider community is mourning the death of Winthrop Marshall, the first African American chair of the organization formerly known as the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. He passed away last week at his home in Hayward, CA, of natural causes, according to daughter LaRajia Marshall.  

“He really encouraged us to look at issues around diversity, inclusion and equity in our field, probably in ways we hadn’t looked at before,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, which shed its AAHSA name and brand while Marshall was chair. “He was encouraging and thoughtful, and I think that made LeadingAge a better organization.”

Marshall, 63, was chair of then-AAHSA from 2010 through 2011. He also served as treasurer or the organization from 2001 to 2004.

Larry Minnix, who was president and CEO of LeadingAge during Marshall’s tenure as chair, said Marshall led during an important time for the organization. Besides undergoing a name and brand transformation, LeadingAge created the Leadership Academy, which recognizes emerging leaders.  

“He was the right person at the right time,” Minnix said, noting that Marshall was one of those people who “was universally liked and respected.”

In addition to devoting his time to LeadingAge, Marshall worked as chief financial officer and vice president of finance for Christian Church Homes of Northern California. Later, he served as CFO for the Santa Clara Methodist Retirement Foundation, according to Sloan.

Sloan called him a “friend and mentor and someone I learned a lot from.” She added that he had “a lot of wisdom and street smarts” and brought a West Coast perspective to the East Coast-based group.

Minnix described Marshall as providing “quiet, transformational leadership.”

While he wasn’t flashy, Marshall enjoyed the spotlight and enjoyed being master of ceremonies at the annual meetings, Minnix said. The two teamed up for a light-hearted video to promote the 2010 LeadingAge conference in Los Angeles, parodying the characters from the movie “Men in Black.”  

Another fond memory of Minnix’s was attending an event at the White House during Obama’s presidency with Marshall as his guest.

“I called Win and he [couldn’t] get there fast enough,” Minnix said.

One of Marshall’s enduring legacies was helping LeadingAge include and promote more people of color in leadership roles, particularly on the board of directors, Sloan and Minnix said.

He was “our moral compass for those issues,” Minnix said.

Marshall’s family is accepting notes of condolence at the following address:1870 66th Ave., Oakland, CA 94621. To make a donation to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation Inc. in Marshall’s memory, please visit this site: http://Justgiving.com/fundraising/Winthropmarshall.