Milo Scovil Marsden, Jr., beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, died at home on March 20, 2021—the first day of Spring—of causes incident to age. He was 88 years old.
Milo was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 17, 1933 to Milo Scovil Marsden, Sr., a sheepman from Parowan, Utah, and Elaine Rampton Marsden, from Bountiful, Utah. He was an athlete, a scholar, and a lawyer who contributed to his community and church. He was a gentleman to all who knew him.
His long list of accomplishments began in junior high when he was elected President of the student body of Roosevelt Jr. His Vice-President was his close friend Jake Garn. Roosevelt was the place the arcs of their political careers crossed. Shortly before Milo’s term ended, there was an effort to impeach him for “dating a girl from Bryant Jr. High.” The effort failed, but it was the highest elected office Milo would ever hold.
He graduated from East High in 1951. At East, he earned letters in football, basketball, and baseball. He pitched for the baseball team and played quarterback for the football team. He was selected to both the All-State and National All American football teams. He also raced in the Knudson Cup, and passed his love of skiing on to his children and grandchildren.
He entered Harvard College on an academic scholarship in the fall of 1951 and played quarterback for the Harvard Crimson. Milo interrupted his schooling to serve a mission for the L.D.S church in Helsinki, Finland. He was given no training in Finnish—a remarkably difficult language. As he tells it, upon arriving in Helsinki he had a short interview with President Henry Matis, and was immediately put on a train to Turku, Finland to fend for himself. Milo served for 2 years and 9 months, and loved every minute of it. Milo developed an affection for the Finnish people, language, geography, and especially the “sauna” culture that lasted a lifetime. He practiced his Finnish throughout his life, often turning to Merja Vanninen a dear family friend, for a language refresher.
On returning from his mission in 1956, Milo enrolled at the University of Utah, and pledged Beta Theta Pi, joining many of his East High friends. He graduated in 1957. In college, his cousin, Carolyn Person (nee Durham), set him up on a blind date with Jacqueline Bourne. They dated steadily for two years, dancing at Saltair and Lagoon, and attending other get-togethers before marrying in the Salt Lake Temple on June 24, 1958. They had 63 wonderful years as a married couple. They have four children: Milo Steven, Mary Lynne, Julie Anne, and Amy. Milo provided his children with years of love and support, and innumerable comic episodes, but he blissfully slept through their curfews, leaving enforcement and sleeplessness to Jackie.
Milo began Stanford Law School in September of 1957, and graduated in 1960. Immediately after law school, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army, and went on active duty first at Ft. Benning, GA and then at the U.S. Army Intelligence School at Ft. Holabird, MD. He served in the Army Reserve for 15 years, generating another rich set of friends and memories.
Milo began his law practice at Parsons & Behle, then a small five-person firm that still had spittoons in its offices. After two years at Parsons, Milo’s cousin, Rendell N. Mabey, asked him to join his law firm which became known as Mabey, Ronnow, Madsen & Marsden. In 1976, Milo and Robert Orton purchased the 5th Floor of the McIntyre Building and established Marsden, Orton & Cahoon. Milo preferred the freedom of being his own boss. Milo practiced with several great lawyers who he considered not only colleagues, but mentors and friends. Colleagues and adversaries describe Milo as a true gentleman who treated them fairly and with respect. He showed kindness, and genuine concern for the best interests of his clients. He was fortunate to find an assistant, Gail Zesiger, who stayed with him for the rest of his career. The family appreciates her many years of loyalty to Milo. Milo practiced law full time from 1960 until 2007, when he began to gradually limit his practice. Milo’s love of professional dress was legendary. He dressed for work in a suit and tie every day, and often donned a vest as well. For more casual events, or simply to relax at home, Milo would forego the formality of a suit and cut loose in a sport coat and tie. He was known to exercise in his dress shoes, drive to Lake Powell in a sport coat, and ski in a dress shirt, under his bibs.
He was a Director of First Utah Bank. He served as the Salt Lake Civil Service Coordinator, and later as the Chairman of the Salt Lake Civil Service Commission. In that role, he was responsible for the qualification and advancement of Salt Lake City’s police officers and fire fighters.
Governor Rampton appointed him to the Utah Council for Handicapped and Developmentally Disabled Persons. He served as the President of the Salt Lake Chapter of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and was instrumental in helping to establish Camp Kostopolus. For many years, he was on the Board of Directors of the Alta Club and Utah’s Hogle Zoo.
Milo was a member of the Yale 2nd Ward from 1962 until 2008, when he and Jackie moved from their long-time home on Laird Circle to a condominium. He served in the Yale 2nd Ward Bishopric. He also served as a counsel in the Branch Presidency of the VA Hospital.
Milo and Jackie loved to travel. Early in his career, Milo became the outside General Counsel of Service Merchandisers of America, an international trade association. He and Jackie attended the organization’s meetings held in far-flung locations: Jamaica, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Montreal, Hawaii, Bermuda, Norway and the like. In 1983, Milo and Jackie (along with 11 other attorneys and their spouses), took a memorable and informative trip to the People’s Republic of China as guests of its Ministry of Justice. Their travels have taken them to all seven continents.
Milo was an outstanding athlete and extremely competitive by nature. He played squash as a lunchtime ritual at his beloved Deseret Gym. He said the hours away were well worth it because they made him sharper and more productive. He golfed enthusiastically—devoting endless hours around the practice green sharpening his short game, and on the driving range in the hopeful search for a perfect, repeatable swing. There is much archival footage of these efforts, most of it self-filmed. He was a longtime member of both the Oakridge Country Club and the Salt Lake Country Club. At Oakridge, he loved playing Friday afternoons with his son, brother-in-law, and nephew. At the Country Club, he continued his love of golf. When he finally gave it up, he turned his competitive focus to playing bridge with friends several times a week. Milo was a loyal Ute, and had season tickets to Ute basketball and football, as well as the Utah Jazz.
Milo collected close friends that he kept throughout his life: kids he grew up with on Yale Avenue, boys he played football with in high school, fraternity brothers, missionary companions, fellow Army reservists, and professional colleagues. Just after college, he and Jackie joined a group of Beta friends and their spouses in a “pot luck” dinner club. That group has met every month for over sixty years. The book club that he and Jackie joined after they returned from active military service also has met monthly from the early 1960s until a COVID-imposed hiatus.
His greatest satisfaction was his family. In addition to regular extended family gatherings, there were frequent vacations with the Bourne and Babcock families in the Tetons, Colter Bay, Lake Powell, Park City, Bear Lake, Sun Valley, and Palm Springs. He was a proud and supportive grandfather. From swim meets, to lacrosse matches, ski races, and soccer games, he fed his competitive appetite watching his grandchildren compete. He enthusiastically attended piano and ballet recitals, school programs, and graduations.
Milo is survived by his wife Jackie, his sister Linda (Fred) Babcock, his four children and their spouses, Milo Steven and Karen Marsden, Mary Marsden, Julie and John Thomas, and Amy and Destry Atkinson. He has seven grandchildren of whom he was immensely proud: Kate, Annie and Milo Marsden; Claire and Mia Thomas; and Jack and Charlie Atkinson.
The family will hold a private memorial on April 3, 2021, interment at the Farmington City cemetery. The family intends to hold a celebration of Milo’s life with extended family, friends and colleagues later this summer, when conditions allow larger gatherings. We would like to thank Dr. Margaret (Meg) Lunt for her extraordinarily kind and loving care of Milo, and Aspen Ridge Home Health & Hospice for their care of Milo during his last days. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donations to Utah’s Hogle Zoo or Camp Kostopolus.
Milo was an outstanding member of the community and our family. He will be profoundly missed.
Just read Milo's obituary... Sounds like an extraordinary being. Hopefully I get to meet him in the next life.
If there is a finer human being, I would love to meet him/her. And there will never be a better dynamic duo than Milo and Jackie. They reminded me of Stockton and Malone. I will let you all guess who played power forward. A beautiful man in mind, body and Spirit. His intellect only exceeded by the way he treated others. Ironically, at the time of his passing is when we need his leadership, character and love most in our community and in our country. As we all know, the best part of living in the East High stomping grounds is continually bumping into our friends, family and neighbors as we maneuver around the city. Bumping into Milo and Jackie was a highlight for me. A smile, intent listening, dry wit, compassion, concern, honesty, love, humility, interest, intellect and virtue were always present in Milo's countenance. I can forgive him for inspiring my amazing wife, Zannie, to pursue the law; although
there is not a day that goes by that her elite legal mind does not create challenges for the most simple interactions. The most obvious of all of Milo's "tells" was probably not in bridge; rather it was everytime he spoke, you knew he loved his family and that is the most memorable.
Love this George! Thanks so much. My Mom also really appreciates you submitting this.
What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Mr. Marsden was one of the kindest, warmest people I have ever met--a true gentleman that I was introduced to when I was a mere 6 years old. Thank you Milo for your and Jackie's generosity in letting me practically live at your house while hanging out with your daughter Julie. Poor Amy was always the maid waiting on us hand-and-foot, fetching us another Lynn Wilson burrito. Steve chauffeured us around town in your fancy brown Mercedes convertible. We girls would sit up on the back of the car (definitely unsafe), while Steve blasted Billy Joel songs. So many great memories--soccer tournaments in Las Vegas, skiing in Park City and staying at your condo, boating, Lake Powell. Along with my dad, you inspired me to become an attorney. And, more importantly, you have inspired me to be a better person. The positive impact you have had on my life is immeasurable and appreciated. You were a legend in the Harvard/Yale neighborhood to all of us growing up.
Love to Jackie, Julie, Steve, Mary, Amy and the entire Marsden Crew!
Thanks again so much Zan. Such kind words. We really appreciate it. My Mom wanted me to let you know how much she enjoyed reading this and appreciates it.