Friends of Dave Marston gathered on Saturday to celebrate the life of the musician and peace activist.
Two hundred people met at the Bandshell in Lithia Park for a memorial service, filled with music, stories, laughter and tears. Marston died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease on June 22. He was 56.
"Dave was an outspoken world citizen," said Rev. Brad Carrier. "His untimely death touches deep into us."
Marston came to Ashland in 1975, performing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival before serving as director of OSF's Green Show. His talent extended to the guitar, banjo, piano, recorder and harmonica, not to mention vocals. Friends remembered him Saturday as a man who brightened the lives of others through his performances.
"It was a joy watching him with people, especially young people, how he was able to stir their interest in music," said Mitzi Rabin, who described Marston as a social activist who cared deeply for people around the world.
In 2006, Marston traveled to Hiroshima with the Rogue Valley Peace Choir to perform at a concert marking the 61st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb. He composed a musical message of apology — "From America to Hiroshima" — which is still sold at the Hiroshima museum in Japan.
Those who knew Marston knew he held a passion for baseball that matched his love of music. Growing up in the Bay Area, Marston would occasionally pay the 65 cents to sit in the right field bleachers at Candlestick Park and watch his beloved San Francisco Giants. He carried his love of the game throughout life, and was equally skilled with a baseball bat as with a guitar. His older brother, Jim Marston, remembered how excited Dave was when he got the chance to join his love for music and baseball, singing the National Anthem at a Seattle Mariners baseball game.
Marston was well known around Ashland for founding The Nowhere Men, a Beatles cover band. Among those who spoke at the service were his Nowhere Men bandmates, David Gabriel and Joe Cahoon.
"You touched so many people with your love and your music," Gabriel said in a letter to Marston that he read aloud. "You feel to me like a Founding Father of Ashland."
Marston is survived by his wife, Tami Marston; his brother, Jim Marston; his children, Jeff, Trevor, Sarah and Rose; and his grandchildren, Emma and Mae.
Jim Marston spoke of Dave's childhood, which, by his teen years, had become consumed by music. Their parents, deeply religious, forbade him from listening to anything that might have been considered "Rock and Roll," and the young Dave Marston even had to hide his Beatles records from them.
There was no hiding his passion for The Beatles and all music Saturday, with friends converging on the park to play and listen to the songs they knew he had loved. His wife of more than 20 years, Tami Marston, called Dave her "partner in music," and remembered the many ways in which he inspired people through his performances and teaching. Among Marston's favorite songs was Pete Seeger's hit "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Tami paid tribute to him by playing the song on her guitar.
Though the grief she feels since losing her husband has sometimes been overwhelming, she said it is eased by the proof of his service to the community, and by his memory, which lives on in his children.
"There are many things I can never do again without feeling pain and loss," Tami Marston said. "But that pain will dissipate, and be replaced by the joy of life being made a little bit better by his having been here."