Marsha Gentry Isom

Marsha Isom, a long-time resident of Alvin, TX, passed away on March 17, 2024 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer and, more recently, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Family and friends will greatly miss her sweet and uncomplaining disposition, as well as her unwavering courage and grace in the face of life’s challenges and, ultimately, a terminal diagnosis. Marsha left this life, as she navigated it—with boundless curiosity, a full heart for those she loved and unwavering fearlessness.

Born during World War II on October 22, 1943 in San Diego, California, Marsha spent her earliest four years as the only child of Genevieve (Amey), an aspiring artist and a volunteer with the Women’s Ambulance and Transportation Corp of San Diego, and Bruce Harold Gentry, a young recruit in the U.S. Army.

While the family loved California, Bruce was reassigned to the U.S. Air Force and transferred to Barksdale AFB in northwest Louisiana where a sister and new playmate for Marsha was born in September 1947. Shortly thereafter, the family was transferred again when the war ended—this time to Waller AFB in northeastern Trinidad. We suspect that this is when Marsha, living within the lush jungles of the West Indies, developed her passion for the natural world and animal kingdoms, including all types of birds. It is here where the family had a naughty parrot, Polly, who enchanted the girls with her loquacious diatribes and mischievousness.

In 1949 the family moved back to Barksdale AFB in the Shreveport/Bossier City area of
Louisiana where Marsha began school and eventually graduated from Fair Park High in 1961. Driven by her growing love of children and concern for their well-being, Marsha entered the University of Southwestern Louisiana in the fall of 1961 to major in primary education with a minor in art. It is here that she met and married her first husband and the father of her two sons, Richard Louis Middleton. After a brief interlude in Houston, Texas, the couple moved to Atlanta, Georgia where their first-born, Bryan Louis, came into the world on April 30, 1968. Troy Matthew was born two years later on June 27, 1970 in Houston, after Richard was again transferred by his employer. During these early years of parenthood, Marsha became a skilled baker and decorator of birthday cakes—clowns, Winnie the Pooh, and lion kings, for instance.

When Marsha and Richard ended their marriage in the 1970s, she began working in her first job outside of the home for Gordon’s Jewelers and then J.J. Sweeney Jewelry Co., Inc. where she developed a fine-tuned appreciation for, and expertise in, fine porcelain china and silverware. Here, a friend and co-worker introduced her to her tall and handsome soulmate, John Daniel (Jack) Isom. Jack was a gregarious and creative postal worker who had previously been a technical writer for NASA, Baylor University, and Texas Instruments and who wrote music that was recorded by major artists, wrote poetry and children’s books, and shared Marsha’s interests in the arts, science fiction, family, child development, and adventure. Marsha and Jack married on September 20, 1981, and she inherited a new and rather large family (Jack’s parents and their siblings, five step children (Dorothy, Nancy, John, Kathy and Carol Ann) and, eventually, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren).

Although Bryan and Troy lived with their father while Marsha learned to be a bread-winner, this ever-growing clan of two families joined together regularly to travel and explore, in large groups and small groups, in search of arts and culture—museums, historical sites and cultural festivals such as Mardi Gras.

Professionally speaking, shortly after the wedding to Jack, Marsha began working with
Houston’s corporate offices of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell as an administrative assistant before being quickly promoted to manager of the word processing department. In that high pressure job, she eventually took on the hefty responsibility of overseeing all publishing operations of a major branch office of one of the largest accounting and audit firms in the world.

Feeling the pressure of long commutes to work from Alvin to Houston’s downtown skyscrapers and long hours, Marsha yearned for more time to spend with Jack, who was suffering from diabetes and a general health decline. She left the company in 1996 to work closer to home and was hired by Susan Wilson to join her Computer Information Services (CIS) team at the Alvin Independent School District (AISD). Over the years, CIS evolved into Instructional Technology (IT), and Susan became a close and loyal ally.

Finally, Marsha had more time to spend with Jack at their country home where they hosted migrating ducks and birds, wildlife of all kinds, and large family gatherings for holidays and special family celebrations. It was during this time that Marsha acquired the infamous Velvet, a sassy, mischievous and fast-talking parrot (conure) who became a fast and true friend to assist her with cooking, printing documents, vacuuming and adjusting to life’s tribulations, including the death of Jack in 2000. Marsha retired from AISD in 2010. With even more time to spare, she spent her time—up to the last days before her death—pouring her love and creative instincts into elegant hand-made gifts for family and friends — quilts, knitting and crocheting, paintings, and needlework. She crocheted fashions for multiple Barbies. She spent hours and days with her quilting group—Ingrid Frey, Cathy Rose and Gaynelle Carlson—and, under their tutelage, became a connoisseur of fabrics and designs.

She explored. She traveled with friends from AISD to Holland to see the tulips in full bloom and sailed to Cozumel. She traveled to Maine multiple times where she boldly, with unfettered curiosity, confronted and photographed a herd of moose and flocks of Atlantic Puffin.

She dedicated herself to genealogy research where she sought to celebrate individual human families and place them into the historical record of the Family of Man. Marsha had embraced the faith of Jack and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly after beginning their life together. She accepted and loved the church spiritual teachings, its focus on family and the network of loving people who welcomed her and have supported her spiritual journey since. It was in this culture where she finally found a path to return to her original life goals of teaching and nurturing/ mentoring children. Marsha cherished her role as a spiritual teacher and mentor for children in the church. She was born for this role and throughout her life became better and better at it.

Marsha is preceded in death by her husband of 19 years, John Daniel Isom; her first husband and the father of her sons, Richard Louis Middleton; her mother, Genevieve A. Gentry; her father, Bruce Harold Gentry; her in-laws, Cathryn and John Isom, Sr.; and Velvet, whose curiosity one day prompted him into open flight when Marsha cracked a door to retrieve something from the back porch.

Marsha is survived by her beloved sons, Bryan Louis and Troy Matthew Middleton; her sister, Rae Amey; her treasured step children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; her dear friends, Cathy Rose and Ingrid Frey, who stood watch over her in the last year as her health declined; and, finally, the larger community of those friends and students who passed through her life and whom she cherished—too numerous to list here, but no less valued.

Celebration of Life services will be held on Saturday, March 30, 2024 at 10:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 505 Deseret Drive, Friendswood, TX 77546. In lieu of flowers, please plant a tree in her memory at

Marsha’s ashes will be interred with her loving husband, Jack, on April 1 at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, 6900 Lawndale St., Houston, TX 77023, Section I, Plot 129.

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