George Mason Alumna Remembered through Fiction Award

Posted: March 31, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

When Donn Marshall’s wife, Shelley, died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon, he knew he had to do something to keep her memory alive. A grief counselor told him he had to “give his sorrow meaning” and he knew at that moment that he was going to start a foundation in her memory. The Shelley A. Marshall Foundation, a year and half later, has already reached more than 2,000 students and families through creative writing contests, story hours, and tea parties.

Last year, The Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Prize was introduced to George Mason, where Shelley Marshall graduated with her B.S. in Public Administration in 1987. The prize is a $500 cash award given to a short story from a current George Mason undergraduate or graduate student. The award will be given during the English Department’s Award Reception.

“Every year at Halloween, we would have a party where everyone would write a short story and then read it aloud,” Donn Marshall recalls. “Shelley loved writing stories.”

Shelley Marshall was raised in Vienna, Va., and was the first in her immediate family to graduate from college. She joined the Defense Intelligence Agency in September 1987 and was a senior management officer in the Comptroller’s Office at the time of her death. She enjoyed writing, tea parties, and reading to her two children, Drake, 5, and Chandler, 3.

Marshall started the writing contests at Oakton High School and George Mason University, his wife’s alma maters, and Hampden-Sydney College, his alma mater, in the hopes that they would inspire people who wouldn’t ordinarily write something to create a work of art. “Shelley always tried to make every single day extraordinary. I’m hoping to carry forward that message with the writing contests,” Marshall says.

Last year’s winner of the Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Prize was Michael Pabich for his story, “One Hundred Rocks.” The deadline for this year’s prize is today. For more information, visit the Shelley A. Marshall Foundation web site.

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