MIDDLETON — Yesterday’s outdoor dedication of the $11 million, 17,000-square-foot Robert “Bongo” Marshall Regional Support Services Building was less about the new facility meant to streamline the intake of inmates and more about the life of a popular assistant deputy superintendent who died from cancer in September.
With R&B music wafting through the air, officials stood in the entrance of the building’s sally port and praised Marshall, a Salem, Mass., resident who was a big fan of the late crooner Barry White. Described as a man with a big heart, Marshall was dedicated to his profession as a corrections officer, a position he held for 31 years, speakers said. His career spanned from June 1977 to August 2008.
“May we see Robert ‘Bongo’ Marshall’s spirit shine down upon us as we begin to use this facility for our greater good,” said interfaith coordinator Paul Shoaf-Kozak during the invocation.
“Bob’s meant an awful lot to all of us,” said Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, who worked with Marshall for almost 18 years. “He’s really the definition of a great public employee.”
“Bongo, rest easy,” Salem police Chief Paul Tucker said, “your work is done. You now have a concrete symbol of a life well lived.”
Tucker called Marshall “a son of Salem” who “was a great ambassador for your department.” He said Marshall’s career showed how someone can succeed after coming from humble beginnings. Marshall was born in Lynn, grew up on Allen Street in Salem and rose to a leadership position within the sheriff’s department.
“He was always smiling,” Tucker said, “But he never forgot where he came from.”
“I knew him well,” said Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. “He was a good friend. To spend 30 years in law enforcement, it’s not an easy thing.” He said he hoped the ranks of corrections officers understood Marshall’s legacy.