Alice Marshall: Our Pioneer

Posted: Sep 22, 2011

In 1923, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, William Scarlett, heard about the Girl Scouts program, and wanted to bring the experience to the girls at his church.  Scarlett approached Marshall, and asked if she would lead a troop.  Despite never hearing about Girl Scouts, Alice agreed.  Armed with a handbook, and the determination of a true Girl Scout Leader, Alice began a troop—what some records indicate as the first troop in the Phoenix Area.  

Alice Marshall with her First Troop at Trinity Cathedral in 1925 (Alice is the tallest, located in the middle of the back row.) 

She planned outdoor excursions with the girls, where they explored nature, had picnics and took horseback rides in the beautiful, untouched Arizona desert.  Under her phenomenal leadership, her troop thrived and grew. 

Among her first troop members was Jean Clark, who became known for her lifelong successes, incredible leadership abilities and commitment to Girl Scouting.  Stories about Girl Scouting—both commonplace and extraordinary—fill the lines in Jean’s detailed diaries. Reading these, it is apparent how these early scouting experiences in Marshall’s troop set the tone for the rest of her life. 

In 1936, Marshall realized that if Girl Scouting was going to flourish, troops would need more stability and infrastructure than National Headquarters could provide.  With that, she took off her troop leader hat, and founded our Council (then called the Maricopa County Girl Scout Council) and became our First council President.  

Alice Marshall (1947)

Even after she passed along the role of President in 1938, she remained a devoted member of the Board of Directors until 1957, and then became an honorary board member. She received a 50-year pin in 1972 and was given the President’s award in 1983. 

She passed away on December 29, 1993.

Marshall’s leadership, both as a troop leader and our council leader has left a legacy of influence: She empowered the girls in her troops toward greatness, and laid the foundation of success for our council.

In an interview with the Arizona Republic in 1986, Alice Marshall said “I don’t look back at things; I’m for the present and future.”

Despite Marshall’s forward-facing nature, her past is simply too significant to ignore. We hope that Alice rests in peace, as her memory lives on in all Girl Scouts today.

Check back on October 6th for a tribute to Jean Clark