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OBITUARIES / Carol Wyeth Marsden, 1924 - 2007

Activist assisted others

December 31, 2007|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Carol Wyeth Marsden, a community activist who held several high-ranking offices in the Junior League, including president of the Junior Leagues of America in the mid-1960s and who later served on the California Board of Community Colleges, has died. She was 83.

Marsden, who for some years bred Morgan show horses under the business name "Marsden's Morgans," died Dec. 23 of cancer at her home in Temecula, her daughter, Susan, said.

Marsden became increasingly prominent as a community activist starting in the 1950s while she was a resident of Pasadena. She became president of the Pasadena Junior League in 1959 and served as a regional director of the service organization in 1962. She also did volunteer work with the Pasadena Senior Center and the Community Planning Council of Pasadena and served on the board of directors of the Girl Scout Council.

In 1964, after being elected national president of the Junior Leagues of America, Marsden was named a Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.

"I was brought up to believe that when you have leisure time you should do something for someone else," she told the Riverside Press-Enterprise in 2000.

Born Nov. 26, 1924, in Pasadena and raised there, Marsden attended Smith College and later transferred to Katharine Gibbs School for secretarial and related skills.

"My father was a great believer in the proposition that women should be able to support themselves; in fact, he insisted on it," Marsden said in an interview with The Times. "I may have resented it then, but I know now that he was right."

She married Warner Marsden in 1946. The couple had three children. She kept up her active agenda of volunteer work, serving on the State Community Colleges Board of Governors starting in 1970, among other commitments.

After several decades of volunteer work in Pasadena, Marsden and her husband moved to Temecula in 1979 as part of a radical lifestyle change. She had long been a horsewoman and she encouraged the couple's move to a three-acre farm where she bred and trained show horses. For years afterward, Marsden entered her horses in regional competitions. She bred several champion horses.

As a Temecula resident she soon became involved in community life. She volunteered at the Temecula Valley Museum and served on the museum board of directors.

In the mid-1990s she helped bring about the restoration of a historic church in Old Town Temecula that became the Chapel of Memories wedding chapel.

Along with her daughter, Susan Marsden Babich of Everett, Wash., Marsden is survived by her sons Stephen of Costa Mesa and Philip of Sunland, sister Gloria Wyeth Neumeier of Kentfield, Calif., brother Harry Bissell Wyeth III of Grass Valley, Calif., as well as three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her husband died in 1994.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Marsden's name may be made to the World Wildlife Foundation, 1250 24th Street N.W., P.O. Box 97180, Washington, D.C. 20090-4180. Or, to the Temecula Valley Museum, 28314 Mercedes St., Temecula, CA 92592.

mary.rourke@latimes.com

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