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A Catholic you want to know: Tia Marsh

Trinity Junior High teacher credits faith for recovery after catastrophic accident

Published: June 18, 2018   
Liam Franklin visits his grandmother, Tia Marsh, at Mercy Fort Smith in September 2017.

Why you want to know Letitia “Tia” Marsh: Tia and Tom Marsh moved to Fort Smith with their four young children in August 1990 and quickly became involved at Christ the King Parish. Tia Marsh directed a children’s choir and taught music at Christ the King School. In 2000, she began substitute teaching at Trinity Junior High School and assisting with its Quiz Bowl program. Four years later, she became the school’s 8th grade religion and speech teacher and Quiz Bowl advisor. This June, she accompanied the Trinity Junior High School Quiz Bowl team to the national championship in Washington, D.C. where they earned fifth place honors. Last August, she was severely injured after her parked car ran her over. After many surgeries and rehab, she returned to school toward the end of the school year.

Family: Married to Tom for 39 years; four children: Patrick Marsh, Ryan Marsh, Nikki Franklin and Michele Alley; and eight grandchildren.

Parish: Christ the King Church, Fort Smith



What feeds you spiritually?
I’ve always loved Church history and learning how people sacrificed themselves because of their strong beliefs. I love the rosary. Every day in the hospital a rosary was wrapped around my wrist. I have prayed the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy for three years. While I was in the hospital, people would come and pray with me and the wonderful Communion ministers gave me the opportunity to receive the Eucharist, the perfect way to start each day.

After sharing your faith with students for over 20 years, how difficult was it to be on the receiving end of their compassion?
It’s definitely been a journey. I received visits from my Trinity and Christ the King families, including students I’d taught up to 15, 16 years ago. Someone set up a group, “Flamingoes4Tia,” which brought me different flamingo souvenirs each day from Sept. 8 until Jan. 31. A few of my students would visit me after football practice at Northside and Southside high schools. It does take a village and it’s wonderful.

You suffered many injuries in the Aug. 25 accident, including eight broken ribs, two broken neck bones, a collapsed lung, a broken and displaced pelvis and your left arm bone protruded through your skin. How did your faith help you recover?
Tom and I are both cradle Catholics with 12 years of Catholic education. Faith has always been an important part of our lives. I don’t know how people can get through something like this without God. During my journey I encountered angels and little miracles. My nextdoor neighbor was out washing his truck when the accident occurred, and he called 911 and stopped my car from rebounding against the curb and hitting me again. Dr. Robert Garrison of UAMS was able to save my left arm although I’d heard several people in the ambulance mention amputation. My husband Tom had worked out of town in Paragould for five and a half years, but on Aug. 1 he had started a local job as finance director for the City of Greenwood. Nini Quimbo, who provided physical therapy at my home, made my exercise time go quickly and pleasantly through her good conversation and good advice.

What are you most grateful for?
I had four grandsons who were born in the last 11 months — one to each of my daughters and daughters-in-law. The first time I cried after my accident was on Easter Sunday. Tom was singing at Mass and my whole family was with us. I was holding my youngest grandson Kaeson (Franklin) and looked down and thought how close I had come to never knowing these children and having them in my life and I started crying … My family has been my main support during my recovery. ... Visits from my grandchildren while I was in the hospital were the best medicine. I loved it when a grandchild sat with me on my hospital bed.

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