BIOGRAPHY OF LEO BERGMAN MARSH
Leo Bergman Marsh was born in Camden, Alabama in 1903. He graduated
from Knoxville College in 1928 and later did graduate work at the University of
Chicago, Ohio State College, Columbia University, and George Williams College.
While in college at Knoxville, he met and eventually married his wife Bessie.
The couple and their two daughters, Frances and Gayle, settled in Montclair,
Marsh began his YMCA career in 1928 in Detroit, where he served as
assistant youth work secretary, transferring to the same position in Chicago in
1929. From 1930 to 1945 he was the director of two branch YMCAs, first in
Toledo, Ohio and then in Columbus, Ohio. In 1945 he became associate executive
secretary of the Atlantic Area, a position which he held until 1948. Marsh
joined the National Board as director of Interracial and Counseling Services in
1948. While with the Board, he was U.S. delegate to the 1952 World Conference
of Christian Youth in India and a delegate to the 1945 World Council of YMCAs
in Japan. In 1954 he had the distinction of becoming the first black president
of the Y's National Association of Secretaries (AOS).
In 1967 Marsh became assistant executive of the Board and executive of
the Committee for Interracial Advance. He was one of the founders and the first
general chairman of the National Conference of Black and Non-White Laymen and
Staff (BAN-WYS). In 1969, After retiring from the National Board in 1970, he
served for a year as associate development director of the New York City YMCA,
where he was instrumental in establishing a successful Black Achievers in
Industry program for the Harlem YMCA.
In addition to his work with the YMCA, Marsh was also active with a
number of other organizations and agencies. He was chairman of the Task Force
on Communications of the Urban Coalition in Montclair, N.J.; a member and
former president of the New Jersey State Prison Board of Managers; a member of
the National Council of United Negro College Fund, Inc.; a former
vice-president of the Montclair Human Relations Council; and a former member of
the Montclair Town Planning Board. His church work included membership on the
boards of the National Presbyterian Church and the American Bible Society, as
well as service as moderator of the Newark Presbytery and as a member of the
Organizing Commission of the Northeast Synod of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
At the time of his death, he was a member of the development staff of the
Presbyterian Homes of the State of New Jersey. Marsh was a charter member of
the Mu Boule of the Sigma Phi Phi Fraternity, and was also a member of the
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Masons.
Biographical information was taken from the collection.