I had expected to see a giant of a man. In fact, Howard reflected the humble Scottish roots of his home. Rather than a six-foot plus giant, Sally and I met a man who she could look at eye to eye, but his welcome and heart was the size of Texas. It was common to hear that he was meeting with students not just to review the current chapter dedicated to their thesis (what the British call a dissertation) but to pray with them. He opened his home to welcome those students and host them, making sure their arrival in Scotland and a foreign land had left them feeling at home.
He engaged in theological discussion and debate as a conservative of deep conviction who demanded that one’s work be thorough but also fair to the views being challenged. He spoke with a soft voice that communicated with clarity and gravity about the way one should regard the Scripture. That captured people’s attention. The depth of his awareness covering a sweep of topics was stunning. Despite all of that ability and knowledge, what struck one about Howard was his humility and devotion to God. His critique was delivered with a gentleness that not only made clear what might be misdirected but also that showed he cared about how that critique was received.
One incident after my time in Aberdeen is still clear to me. On a return visit to Aberdeen, we brought our family with us. Our two girls had been born in bonnie Scotland, but my son had not. It was the first and only time Howard met our son, who was a very young, playful, five-year-old boy at the time. The Marshalls had a tea warmer in the shape of penguin. Another aspect of Howard’s personality is that he had a classic Scottish wit. So Stephen spotted the warmer and was drawn to it. He offered Stephen to let him play with it and got down on the floor with him to share in the moment. Stephen took advantage of his new playmate and promptly placed the penguin on Howard’s head, leaving both of them laughing and my wife nothing short of horrified. But that was Howard, sensitive to where people were coming from with an eye to where they could go. When I remember Howard Marshall, it is this moment that most typifies him as a person.
Read it all from Darrell Bock.