Annabel Marsh
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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.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 1, 2008.
Memories & Condolences
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38 entries
December 25, 2008
It had been a privelege for me to have known Annabel. She will truly be missed by many.
Alice Dingwall
December 18, 2008
I am sorry that I did not get a chance to meet Annabel, but I did read her account of her cross country run. It was an inspiration to me and to others I have shared her book with. I have heard stories about her life and know that she will be missed by many people. She will always be an inspiration to me and when I get tired during one of my runs I only have to think of her and her struggles and my problems all seem to go away. My best wishes to all her friends and family...
Sincerely,
Douglas Kent
Miami Florida...
Douglas Kent
December 17, 2008
I wanted to share I attended a tribute to Annabel held by the Street School Artists in Hollywood last evening. As many of you know, following running, acting was her passion for the last 10 years. The caring showed by Vince, Lisa and her fellow Street School Artists provided a wonderful celebration of Annabel's life and helped in processing this great loss.

Annabel had a role in this play which she was sadly not able to fulfill. She did, however, have a special front row seat RESERVED FOR ANNABEL MARSH, and I know her spirit was hooting and hollering with the rest of us when Martin hilariously played her role ... in drag! A spotlight shown on her seat during Vince's recap of her amazing life, a very moving taps was played, and of course, a champagne toast was shared by all in the small theatre before the play commenced.

Annabel did not want a traditional service, but I know this outpouring of love and Martin stepping in to play her role (in pink dress with a lovely floral pattern, pink ostrich feather hat, knee high stockings and a coordinated handbag) was an absolute thrill for her. :-)

I can't thank the Street School Artists enough for this opportunity to share our gratitude for having someone as special as Annabel in our lives.
Susan Thornhill
December 16, 2008
I was known as Brownie when I flew as a Branif flight attendent with
Annabel from 1947 to 1950.
Whenever I think of Annabel I remember the New Years Eve party that we had at the'Hostess Harem"
where Annabel lived. The bath tub was filled to the brim with beer and ice.The cops came three times because the neighbor complained that we were a little loud.Annabel invited them to join the party,but all that she could get them to partake of was a cup of black eyed peas.The third set of cops that came about thee A.M.we not very friendly and made us break up the party.

I never knew any one thatdid not like Annabel,she had a uniqe personality. I've never met anyone else like her, I'll never forget her.
Clarence Braun
December 16, 2008
So sad to hear the news. My mother-in-law Marjorie (Knight) Watson was a dear friend, along with Margie's sister Gloria (Knight) Whatley (now deceased). Gloria was in the famous photo iwth Dwight D. Eisenhower, Annabel and Patty (Powell) Fleming. We traveled to SF with Margie in May 2007 and enjoyed an evening with Annabel. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. The Watson Family (Tom, Lisa, Emily, Ben and Marjorie)
Lisa Watson
December 14, 2008
My Aunt Annabel,

I will always have such fond memories of Annabel. We didn't see each other near enough and I will always regret that. I was always so proud of her, being an Airline Hostess and she inspired me to work for Northwest Airlines when I got out of college. She always made it seem like such an exciting job.

She was always so full of life and wine. I think we all got our wine appreciation from her. I really miss that I didn't get to see her act.
Annabell just sent me a card for my 62nd birthday and and that will be placed with her picture on my dresser.

Hope to see you again in Heaven Auntie. Much love always.
Joann Pelletier
December 5, 2008
I founded the Street School Artist Collective 10 years ago along with Vincent Riverside and Annabel Marsh on a cold, San Francisco night on Townsend. Throughout all the years, throughout all the members it has always been just us "three" who have continued this journey with the Street School. Annabel's passing has been very, very difficult for me. She has turned out some amazing performances and always seem to be a crowd pleaser!!! She was so endearing on stage and I will truly miss that! This past Wednesday, I took a trip up to San Francisco with Vince and it definately was not the same without her. I looked down at her empty seat (she always sat in the front row of the theatre) and it just brought tears to my eyes that this was the first time in the whole history of the Street School that she was not there. We laughed and we cried as Vince told some great stories about Annabel. I had the pleasure of hanging with Annabel during a break at one of the many rehearsals she had at her apartment. Boy, we sure are going to miss those!!! So much fun and so much laughter with her spread of goodies and wine!!! She began to tell me stories behind every picture and talked of her beloved brothers. One picture that remains in my mind is the young picture of Annabel in classic, airline stewardess attire with President Eisenhower. God, she looked so beautiful!!! And the picture of her finishing her run across the United States. What an amazing accomplishment in life!!! As we continue our journey with the Street School, we will honor her, always! I found a great quote from Annabel "Running has given me more energy than I've ever had before...It's always my hope that I'll inspire someone to walk or run around the block the next day." She inspired me, and in her honor, I have taken up running again.

With love and respect,

Lisa Acuna
2nd Vice President-Los Angeles Chapter
Lisa Acuna
December 5, 2008
I will never forget Annabel showing up to rehearsal after an injury and she was ready to work and no complaints. A true classy woman who knew how to live with passion.
david mccarthy
December 5, 2008
Annabel Marsh...one of the strongest, dedicated and passionate women I've ever met. I was blessed to have worked with her and get to know her briefly during my first theatrical endeaver with the Street School. I remember she broke her collarbone, yet showed up to every rehearsal and performed right through it without a hitch. Even at her last show, she lost her voice, but nurtured it up til showtime, and gave an amazing performance. A consummate professional at everything she did in life. It takes a special spirit to live every day to its fullest, which I believe she did. She made quite an impact on this Earth and now that she's moved on, I'm sure she is still doing the same elsewhere. She surely lives on in our hearts and will continue to be an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your smiles and dreams with us, Annabel. We are all better for having known you.
Teresa Sciortino
December 4, 2008
Love you, dear friend. I'll always remember our many walks& talks. Thank you for your warmth, and all your support.
Zach Skiles
December 3, 2008
Over the last 3 years I was fortunate to act with Annabel many, many times. Whether we were playing nuns or at the DMV we always had a blast. There was never a moment that we spent together that I wasn't smiling. When I hit a rough patch in life, Annabel offered to take me and my cat in. We ate dinner together every night before settling in for Dr. Phil. My fondest memories of The Street School and even of my 7 years in San Francisco, involve her in one way or another. I'm a better actor and a better person for knowing her.
You were one of a kind kid! The world and everyone in it is better off having known you. Thanks for the laughs, thanks for the wine, thanks for making me eat my carrots!
Mary Kegley
December 3, 2008
I've known Annabel for 4 years and she was a very interesting lady. I was lucky to stay with her for 2 nights last year and got to know her well. I know Annabel's in Heaven and I love that she's there for God is with a classy person. I'll miss you Annabel
Roger Tucker
December 3, 2008
May Annabel's zest for life bring comfort to all those who loved her and knew her. I met Annabel only once, in the bathroom of the McCadden Theatre in Hollywood. She made me laugh and then we hugged. A year later I would play a role that she originated and from then on I always felt a unique bond with her.

A Sun-Tea toast to Annabel.
Patty Gliniewicz
December 3, 2008
Over the last 5 years I have had the honor of acting alongside Annabelle in the Street School. During that time she played an amazing array of characters, both poignantly dramatic, and utterly hysterical. I will always remember the way we shared hugs and high-fives at the beginning of every rehearsal, her smile, and the warm feeling I got every time she opened her doors to our group (oftentimes hosting rehearsals in her apartment). I will remember marveling at her room full of running accolades, and will cherish the copy of her book that she gave to me. And as I grow older, I only hope that I can have as much motivation as she did to keep running through every open door that life grants. Thank you so much for all the fun times Annabelle, it's going to be hard to bring the house down with out you, but you will be in my heart every time I take the stage.....I love you
Nick Marquez
December 3, 2008
i'm not very good at typing or email but thank you so much for sending me this and thank you for being such a great friend to annabel. over the last 10 years we at the street school have laughed, screamed, cried and triumphed with annabel. she was there the first night i founded the group in 1999 and she has been the grande damme of the stage ever since.....we will continue to honor her with our endeavors...there really are no words for me to express what she meant to the street school and to me personally, and you should know that there was no one she wanted to see her perform more than you caroline. i plan on giving a performance inspired by her passing at our la show on dec.16, where i have cast martin to reprise the last role annabel did.....in drag of course...very street school, i know. we will also honor her at our 10 year anniversary party at the first annual american heart festival, which will take place in feb of 2009 put on by the street school and my partner, josh brolin, who also worked with annabel on the street school production dirty deeds, and sends his deepest thoughts and prayers to her friends and family...it was and will continue to be one of the great joys of my life to have known her, my pain at her loss was not unexpected but it has knocked me over just the same. may the spirit comfort us in our loss, we will continue to honor annabel by a credo her and i uttered to each other often "no retreat, no surrender"

with heavy heart and respect,

vincent riverside pres. ssac
Vincent Riverside
December 2, 2008
Aunt Annabel was like a fairy-godmother to the 6 of us nieces and nephews. It was always such fun hearing about her trips on Braniff airlines. And she often came bearing presents. She gave us our first 2-wheeler bike, a bright red one. She also gave our family our first TV. Both presents were very exciting.

As we got older, Annabel would always bring a box of hand-me-downs when she came to visit. She continued this tradition when we came to her 80th birthday party. We had a "trying on" party at her apartment. I inherited a pair of wild and crazy Guatemalan red and purple slacks which have become one of my favorite "comfort" clothes. I wore them on Thanksgiving in honor of her.

Memories of "Auntie" will always bring a smile to my face.
Pat Fisher
December 2, 2008
Annabel gone. It's hard to believe. I will always remember her for her wonderful passion for living. Everything she did was done with an energy that was contagious.

I saw her in September and we went out to eat every night and as usual she would not let me pay. She was very good at getting the bill without me seeing her.

Her last marathon was an amazing event. I could not watch her without tears flowing, because she was in such pain. What determination. I was so proud. She had such an fantastic group of wonderful supportive friends.So many are going to miss her.

I will always remember her and always be proud that she was my aunt.
Goodbye Annabel. You will always be in my heart.
Bob Schiesher
December 2, 2008
My Aunt Annabel,
I remember getting a very elegent manicure set when I was very young from my Aunt, I had no idea what to do with it, but remember thinking, wow she thinks I'm so mature. It made an impression on me.
My Mom could tell me something over and over but if Aunt A. told me once I took it to heart. I got contacts and braces thanks to her.
I will miss her very much. Thanks for being my Aunt.
peggy schiesher
December 2, 2008
She was a wonderful, fun lady and will be greatly missed by all that knew her. Especially our household. The Cunneen family.
Patrick n Betty Cunneen
December 2, 2008
My first memory of my Aunt Annabel is looking at her put make-up on at our house in Illinois. I must have been only five or six years old. I was watching her and thinking how pretty she was and how proud I was for having her for my Aunt and then I told her so. She rewarded me with a big, beautiful smile and hug.
I will always remember her for her hearty laugh and great sense of humor. I will miss her tremendously!
Here's to you, Auntie!
Barbara Hultgren
December 2, 2008
I was not able to see my Great Auntie Annabel very often, since I grew up in the midwest, however, when I was little she would send us White Elephant gifts every year for Christmas- little re-gifted watches, jewelry, odd items we didnt really know what they were. It was such fun to open those gifts and see just what kind of assortment she had sent. This year I am making a point of sharing some White Elephant gifts with those I love in her memory.

She and I were also kindred spirits since I was a theatre major in college. I remember her showing me her first headshot and helping her memorize her lines. She was unforgettable and I will miss her very much!
Sarah Fisher
December 2, 2008
Thank you Annabel.
I first met Anabel in 1976 when I was a new Peak Buster. Every year since then I would look forward to seeing her each August. She will be with me on my next trip up Pikes Peak.
Kelly Murphy
December 2, 2008
I first met Annabel in 1968 while running one of the DSE fun runs, I will never forget her kind and wonderful smile.
George Sacco
December 2, 2008
I will certainly miss Annabel and our ongoing battle of Broncos vs, 49ers. If we bet and I won she had forgotten about that bet, however if she won she never forgot. I will miss her always positive attitude, friendly smile and little visits that I always enjoyed when she was our guest at the Wheeler House.
Edd Bever
December 1, 2008
Annabel Marsh, an icon to those of us who had the gift of her friendship and encouragement. Our lives have been blessed to have had this Peak Buster in our midst. You will be missed Annabel, you certainly touched my life. Grace Rome Schnakenberg
grace rome-schnakenberg
December 1, 2008
I have met Annabel in Manitou Springs in summer '04 and since then she has become a hero lady to me. I was so impressed by her strong ambitions, life-long devotions and all this encouragement for women running Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. She would put a smile on everybody's face, who met her, and share joy with people surrounding her. She was an amazing woman...
Aneta Scott
December 1, 2008
Every year during race week for the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent, I looked forward to seeing Annabel’s always smiling face and to hear her stories of the old days. I would get the sense when talking with her that I was in the presence of a very special person, which I was. Her support of the races and her inspiration to the women that participated were immense - and will not be forgotten. There will be a large sense of loss at next year’s races. Tonight as I watched the rare cosmic event of the moon, Jupiter and Saturn setting over Pikes Peak, I had a Chardonnay and thought of Annabel.
Ron Ilgen
December 1, 2008
Annabel was so supportive of women runners, in the early days, when that was not so common. It was great having DSE newsletter folding sessions at her apartment.
A kind-hearted person!
Liese & Wally Rapozo
December 1, 2008
Annabel was always a great fun runner, both with the DSE and at Pikes Peak. Her run across America was inspiring, and there's a photo of her returning across the GGBridge, with friend Caroline Merrill, in my own book called "The New Womens' Running". We will all drink toasts and run/hike in her honor!
Joan Ullyot
December 1, 2008
Annabel was a terrific woman. The only time I have visited San Francisco, she opened her home to my sister and I. I hardly remembered her from my childhood in Hampshire, IL, but it didn't matter to Annabel. She made the visit just that much more enjoyable.
MARSHA WOOD
December 1, 2008
Annabel was a favorite of Mikayla's, my daughter 10 years old. We talked this weekend about the nice talks her and Annabel would have together at the Wheeler House in Manitou Springs. Mikayla loved her smiles and her jokes the most. I personally loved the inspiration that Annabel carried with her during her travels about running and loving life with harmony.
Candice Koch
December 1, 2008
Annabel was a remarkable and generous friend and truly an inspiration in her amazing energy and healthy zest for life. She would always have a big welcome mat and "my bedroom" available whenever I came to San Francisco. I will cherish the special memories of her amazing 100th Marathon, her 80th Birthday celebration, her cheering on our 60 mile AVON breast cancer walk, attending her crazy plays with Martin, learning about the latest vitamins, and having a glass of wine, a healthy salad and chatting around her kitchen table.
Her loss leaves a very sad void, but there is solace in knowing she lived her life exactly as she wished with such positive energy and vigor. We love you Annabel. You were a very bright light in this world, and, rest assured, you will continue to be an inspiration.
Susan Thornhill
December 1, 2008
Annabel was a friend and a great role model. I learned a lot from her and her inspiration to all was a blessing she shared with us. The PAMAKID Runners and DSE will have an advocate "up" there for all of us. The greatest tribute we can offer is to pass on her legacy to others and remember her this way.
Love Mike
Mike Taheny
December 1, 2008
Annabel and the life she led were examples to which we should all aspire. She was genuine and authentic and always encouraging. She believed that if you don't try, you won't succeed; but if you do try, you can't imagine how successful you might be. I will miss her.
Jane Niemeier
December 1, 2008
I am so saddened to hear of Annabel's sudden passing. I will always remember that smile and great sense of humor. I got to see her every year at Peak Busters and at the Keg having that glass of wine. What a gentle spirit she was. She will be missed and now when I hike Barr Trail will take the memories with me.
Carol Stewart
December 1, 2008
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Annabel. She was an inspiration to me in climbing Pikes Peak. She was a great source of encouragement. I will miss her.
Pamela Penfield
December 1, 2008
What a very special lady Annabel was! Our church ladies served the Peak Busters, and I looked forward to seeing her sweet face every year and getting a great big hug!

Reading of her life gave me new insight into who she was and will forever be. We were all blessed to have had her in our lives!

God bless you all!
Linda Baker
December 1, 2008
Wow, I can not believe Annabel is gone. She was so full of life. The way she would always tease my husband, Edd Bever and he, she, with his stunts. Especially the one where he acted like an old bum and went to her apartment at the Wheeler House in Manitou looking for Annabel "for a good time". He really had her on that one; she was so shocked!
Or the time a group of us told her we had won several hundred dollars in the lottery but forgot to include her in the spoils. After we 'remembered' and collected her money, we then told her we had promptly lost on the next round. The truth is we had no lottery tickets--it was all a joke to stir up Annabel. She was so adamant about her lottery tickets, the division of who is in--who is out, 50 cents here, 50 cents there. Her lottery ticket would win a dollar or two now and then but no one else's ever profited a dime! (Go figure!)
In sports, Annabel would always harrass Edd about the Bronco wins and losses vs. the San Francisco 49's which she always claimed to be a 'building team'.
Then when I would go to clean Annabel's home (she was our guest in Manitou Springs for many many years), she would always tell me everything was fine to just sit down, eat chocolate candies (which she always had available) and visit with her.
Annabel brought us many hours of endless joy and laughter with her year around notes and summer visits. She was quick whitted, sharp as a tack and kind to all. I don't think she had a nasty streak her--she was the most generous woman I have ever known. The world would be a better place if there were more "Annabel's"; she is truly someone to emulate! God bless her.
Penny Bever
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