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Annabel Marsh

Photo Annabel Marsh 1923 - 2008 Annabel Marsh, the well-known long distance runner and the oldest woman to run across the United States from Boston to San Francisco, died suddenly at her home in San Francisco on November 26, 2008. She was 85. Annabel was born in Hampshire, IL, and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1945. After graduating from college, she worked as a Braniff Airline hostess out of Dallas, TX, for a number of years, and was selected to be a stewardess on General Dwight D. Eisenhower's plane during his campaign for president in 1952. When her good friend Pamela Archer married the famous actor and war hero, Audie Murphy, in 1951, she was in the wedding party. After nine years at Braniff, she moved to San Francisco in 1954, where she had a long career at U.S. Steel's Western Division as a planning analyst, retiring in 1981. While working at her Financial District desk job, she took up running at the age of 47, and ran her first marathon in 1970, at the age of 48. She went on to run 100 marathons, the last one, the 1996 San Francisco Marathon, at the age of 73. She ran the Pike's Peak Marathon 20 times, from 1975 - 1995. She returned every August since her first ascent to host the Peak Busters, a group she founded, to encourage women of all ages to take on the challenge of the Pike's Peak Marathon. She remained a member of the Dolphin South End (DSE) Running Club, and the Pamakids Running Club. Annabel's most notable athletic achievement was her cross-country run from Boston to San Francisco in 1984 at the age of 61, with her good friend and running partner, Caroline Merrill. She still holds the record for the oldest woman to run across the United States. They ran 3,261 miles through 12 states in 113 running days, and wore out 12 pairs of running shoes. After giving up running marathons in 1996, she took up acting at the age of 73. Annabel studied at Jean Shelton's Acting Lab, where she met her dear friend and companion, Martin Durante. She went on to perform in many local theater productions, and was a member of the Street School Artist Collective. Annabel was preceded in death by her three brothers: Donald, Edwin and Robert Schiesher. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Lorraine Schiesher, six nieces and nephews: Joann Pelletier (Richard), Patricia Fisher (David), Bob Schiesher; Barbara Hultgren (Randall), David Schiesher (Gloria), Peggy Schiesher; eight grandnieces and nephews; her dear friends Peggy and George Wessler, and many other friends. Annabel's wish was that there be no memorial service, but she would not object to any of her friends getting together to remember her in just the way they feel is appropriate. Think back to one of the times you were together with Annabel and her buoyant, bubbly personality. Whether it was enjoying a glass of wine, hiking the Barr Trail at Pikes Peak, running or walking along with her at a Sunday DSE run or laughing at her theatrical efforts in her later years - pick any one, grab a bunch of kindred spirits, and take a hike, join the DSEers for a run, take in a local theater event, or just sip a nice Chardonnay while gazing at the sunset, in the Sunset. We love you Annabel.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 1, 2008
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