Mohawk College Officially Opens Gerald Marshall Centre For Transportation
March 1, 2010
HAMILTON, Ont. - In an appropriate departure from the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, the family and friends of the late Gerald Marshall fired up several diesel engines to mark the grand opening ...
READY TO ROLL: Gerald Marshall's daughter Jo-Anne Spadafora (right) and family members start their engine to open the facility.
HAMILTON, Ont. –In an appropriate departure from the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, the family and friends of the late Gerald Marshall fired up several diesel engines to mark the grand opening of the Gerald Marshall Centre for Transportation at Mohawk College on Feb. 4.
The new state-of-the-art training facility was made possible by $1.7 million in funds contributed by the Marshall family, who wanted to create a lasting legacy on behalf of their father.
It was the largest single donation in Mohawk College’s history, and will benefit 400 apprentices per year who will go on to enjoy careers as heavy truck and coach technicians.
It also marks the first time the college has ever named one of its facilities after an individual.
“I couldn’t think of a better community leader and businessperson’s name to put up in lights than Gerald Marshall,” said Mohawk College president Rob MacIsaac.
Marshall founded G. Marshall Transport with a single truck in 1970 and over the next 24 years, grew the company to include 24 trucks and trailers, MacIsaac recounted. He also had a hand in opening Marshall Truck and Trailer Repair, which is still run by the family today. Sadly, Marshall passed away in May 2006 after a battle with cancer.
Before long, Marshall’s children Linda Marshall, Cindy Butler, Wayne Marshall and Jo-Anne Spadafora were seeking a way to honour their father and create a lasting legacy.
“We want our dad’s spirit to carry on,” an emotional Spadafora told a gathering of several hundred visitors during the grand opening ceremony. “We wanted to instill in others a set of core values that defined our dad.”
Spadafora’s only regret was that her father wasn’t there to enjoy the celebration.
“As much as our dad would have loved this party, he would have had an even better time working alongside the apprentices on the shop floor here at Mohawk College,” she said. “He would have been in his element.”
Brother Wayne was equally impressed with the end result of the family’s financial contribution.
“When I look around this building, I feel so proud and see many things that remind me of my father and who he was,” he said. “From the colour of the floor to the bright lights, I can see a great deal of planning went into this building.”
Wayne Marshall said he took pride in the new facility for three reasons: it honours his father’s legacy; it gives back to the community; and it will keep Marshall Truck and Trailer competitive in the future. He said the company will look to employ graduates from the program for many years to come.
“We want the best and brightest apprentices who train here to work with us at Marshall Truck and Trailer,” he said.
Linda Marshall also spoke at the event, thanking the many donors who contributed to the cause, including the Hamilton Transportation Club which showed up with an unexpected cheque for $25,000 in-hand. Those funds will be matched by the province and distributed as bursaries to students.
Linda said the family is not done raising funds for the program -now that the building is up and running, she said the family will continue to raise money to help students attend the college.
“We’re going to continue raising much-needed funds to keep this state-of-the-art program going,” she said. “If we want the best workers, we need to give apprentices and students the best equipment to learn on, and we plan to continue doing that.”
In fact, she said the family will be hosting their fourth annual memorial fundraiser -a Blue Jeans Barbecue -on May 15. More than $140,000 has been raised in the first three versions of the event. Info on the event is available at www.geraldmarshall.ca.
MacIsaac noted the Marshall family has already committed $250,000 for student bursaries. “These bursaries will put a Mohawk education within reach of students who have unlimited potential, but limited means,” he said.