Trent Marshall said a couple years ago, he had an idea to write letters to his wife and two daughters to let them know how much he loved them.
“I needed to get some of it on paper in case something happened to me,” he said.
He read his letter to his oldest daughter, Kate Marshall, at her funeral on Wednesday, surrounded by a crowd of supporters on a softball field at Settler’s Park in Meridian. Kate, who was 15 when she died May 12, spent years playing softball on that field.
Trent Marshall’s letter outlined moments throughout his daughter’s life when she made him smile and made him proud. He paused with tears as he described how Kate would follow him around when she was a little girl.
“You’d ask me so many questions, and every one of them started with, ‘Hey dad,’” Trent Marshall said. She would sit on his lap and snuggle.
“Even on your last night alive, you wanted me to hold you, thinking it would make you feel better,” Marshall read.
Kate Marshall died at a Boise hospital of natural causes, according to her obituary. She leaves behind her parents and her younger sister, along with friends and teammates at Rocky Mountain High School and in the Boise Blast Softball league.
Trent Marshall laughed as he described his daughter’s love for practical jokes. He once heard his wife yell a few choice words from the bedroom and soon learned that Kate had left a present on her pillow case — toenail clippings. Other times she would leave a fake mouse on the pillow or marbles in the sheets, he said.
Kate looked forward to putting up Christmas lights every year. Her parents made her wait at least until the holiday season was close. She found a way to get around that, Trent Marshall said, by putting up “Halloween lights.”
He chuckled remembering a road trip to a softball tournament when Kate’s love for Christmas came out again.
“It was April, and we listened to Christmas music from La Grande to Meridian,” he said.
When it wasn’t softball season, Kate was often found on the slopes. She was an adventurous skier from the age of 4. She loved moments of adrenaline: skiing backward down the hill, going down challenging runs, and, in softball, being the player to make the final, crucial play in a close game, Trent Marshall said.
He told Kate in his letter that the most important lesson she taught him came after a rough softball game when she was about 14. She hadn’t batted well and had made two errors, Trent recalls. He went up to her after the game to go over her mistakes, and she asked if she could say something first.
“You told me I had to tell you one thing you did right in the game,” Trent Marshall said. No player wants to make a mistake, she told him, and the way to improve is through practice, not through post-game criticism. Trent said that changed the way he approached every one of Kate and her sister’s games after that.
Kate had a shy and quiet demeanor in new situations, according to her dad.
“You didn’t let everyone in immediately. You had to scope out your surroundings before you let your guard down,” he read. “But once it was down, watch out — you wouldn’t stop talking.”
Trent said he was thankful that even as Kate got older, she continued to talk to him each day about how she was doing and what she was learning.
“I will miss our conversations in the kitchen,” he read to his daughter. “I will never stop missing you.”
A relative who spoke at the funeral said Trent and Martie Marshall want the community to know how thankful they are for all of the acts of love and support. According to the relative, whose name could not be confirmed at the service, Martie made the comment: “People say it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe it also takes a village to mourn one.”
One message under the obituary reads: “Trent, Martie and Liz, you will remain in our hearts indefinitely. Thank you for letting us be part of you and Kate’s lives, we have been greatly blessed seeing the love you all share for each other. There was never a tournament, event or even practice that went by that you weren’t there showing your support for your dear Kate. She taught the other girls how to be gracious, a good sport and to never give up, she was a truly good example to us all.”