In Memoriam: Gordon Marshall

Entrepreneur and longtime USC trustee Gordon Marshall, who served as chairman of the board and founder of electronics giant Marshall Industries and namesake of the USC Marshall School of Business, died of natural causes in his Pasadena home on June 2 at the age of 95.

Marshall had been a member of the USC Board of Trustees since 1968. During his time, he served as board secretary from 1970 to 1984 and served variously as chair of the academic affairs committee and as a member of the executive and development committees.

Additionally, his name is commemorated at the university with the Gordon S. Marshall Chair in Engineering, the Gordon S. Marshall Early Career Chair and the Gordon S. Marshall Professorship in Engineering Technology at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

“He supported USC Viterbi in multiple ways in his role as USC Trustee as well as by endowing the Gordon Marshall Chair in Engineering,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, Dean of USC Viterbi. “The impact of his endowment in attracting and retaining top faculty in engineering has been strong and indispensable. He will be sorely missed.”

Marshall’s most notable contribution to USC came in 1996, when he pledged
$35 million to the business school, which was named the USC Gordon S. Marshall School of Business in his honor. This made national news, as it was the largest endowment granted to a business school at the time and the second largest in USC’s history.

Marshall was born Nov. 17, 1919, and was raised in South Pasadena. He was a B-24 bomber pilot during World War II and graduated from USC with a degree in accounting in 1946.

His passion for electronics, which stemmed from his time as a teenage ham radio operator, propelled him to found Marshall Industries in 1953. The El Monte-based company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1959 and grew to become one of the nation’s five largest distributors of electronics components until Avnet, Inc. purchased it in 1999.