Henry G. Marsh, attorney, community leader and mayor served the people of Saginaw for over half a century. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1921, he graduated from Knoxville College and Wayne State University Law School. He came to Saginaw in 1954 to practice law and quickly became a community leader.
Elected to Saginaw City Council in 1961, he became Saginaw’s first black mayor in 1967--one of the first black mayors in the United States. He served during a time of change and for many his leadership was a steady force in a divided community. As mayor, he was successful in having Saginaw designated a Model City, making it eligible for federal urban aid funds. Under his leadership Saginaw was named an All-American City. He was accessible and responsive to the day-to-day needs of Saginaw’s residents. When he was awarded the Arnold Boutell Award for distinguished public service in 1968, Marsh noted, “there is no mayor who is anything unless he has people help him do it.”
When he left city council in 1969, the Saginaw News reported that Saginaw’s City Manager Edward Pottoff stated: “we would be very foolish if we didn’t insist that Hank Marsh continue in some way as a servant of the citizens of Saginaw.” Mr. Marsh would remain active and devoted to his community and family until he passed away in 2011 at the age of 89.
His life-long service to the community was recognized with numerous awards and honors. The I-675 bridge over the Saginaw River is named after him as is the Henry Marsh Institute at Saginaw Valley State University. More importantly, he left a tangible legacy of leadership and change in Saginaw.
Inducted into the Saginaw County Hall of Fame in 2021.
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