Dear family and friends,
Marshall Hay passed peacefully at home Wednesday night [Oct. 28, 2015] at 9:03pm. He was with family and close friends all saying God’s name around him. The release of his spirit charged the room with a sense of victory to God, and victory to a life well lived in service of Beloved Meher Baba. Marshall was a pillar in the Meher Baba community in Myrtle Beach. He lived his life with that one pointed desire to serve his Lord above everything else. Upon his passing, we all prayed and sang Baba’s arti, laid red and yellow rose petals over him, and anointed his body with Baba’s lavender bath water and dhuni ash.
Marshall will be cremated and a memorial celebration will be held at McMillan Small Funeral Home in Myrtle Beach . When these arrangements are finalized, we will send out another update.
“The beauty returns to the beauty. What a stupendous spirit Marshall is and was, a unique flame of an individual. He lit so many people’s lives. Speaking in his calm smooth voice, introducing programs at the center, providing a gateway to enter the sacred. Gradually moving more into Baba as he steadfastly endured the ravages of illness, a silent journey. A role model of love and strength, peace and wisdom. My heart holds you dear, embracing you in this wordless time, shrouding you in silk kimonos, where you and Marshall are always embracing.”
—Marla Faith, 10/29/15
How Marshall Came to Baba: In His Own Words
“I remember having had the darshan [at Meher Baba’s Samadhi] and recognizing at that moment that this would be a good day to just die.” —Marshall
Source: Finding God in North Carolina, ed. Randy Wasserstrom and Zuzanna Vee (2008), pp. 88-97. Reprinted by permission of Randy Wasserstrom.
Marshall told his interviewer, Randy Wasserstrom: “My story has never been in print before.”
I came to Myrtle Beach for the first time in 1961, Christmas season, when my parents bought a lot in Briarcliffe, which adjoins the Center. What’s of interest is that, at that time, as a teenager with my buddy, I explored the area near the Center while my parents were off buying this lot. I recall standing at the cabana at Briarcliffe, looking down the beach, and there was nothing to the south at all, no development at all. As we wandered the neighborhood, we did not see the Meher Center. It was here. I am sure of that. We walked back and forth past the entrance but not onto the Center. That in fact was my experience even after my family moved here in 1963. Although I drove by the Center for the next several years, I never knew it was here. How Baba keeps us apart until the day.
I went off to Chapel Hill in the Fall of 1963. Looking back, it is remarkable to me how in my way I gravitated to a particular situation and immediately began making this circle of friends, many of whom would later become devoted to Baba. Hindsight. During this period, like a lot of other people, I got into drugs. I took a lot of LSD and all of that. That was a BIG part of my life. I was in and out of school. I was essentially a part-time student. In those days you had to stay on to avoid the draft. I found myself very, very committed to staying in Chapel Hill. Things came along that could have taken me away, but they just couldn’t happen.
In 1965 I was taking LSD and, like most people that I knew, was taking it as a spiritual pursuit. I was having this really remarkable experience, but every time I took LSD there was this diminished effect. My love affair with drugs was disintegrating, but I didn’t know what else to do and this was a difficult thing.
Then in May 1966, I recall sitting one day in the Student Union, Graham Memorial. I was reading magazines and picked up a Look magazine. There was an article on LSD, which I read. It was the kind of thing that was happening a lot at that point. It was talking about this thing that was sweeping the country. They had blurred photographs which seemed to say this was the typical image of using LSD. As I read this, a very clear voice inside of me to, “No one knows what this stuff is!”
A few days later, there was going to be a giant going-away party near Southern Pines for a friend of mine, Ed Causey, who had been drafted. His family had a farm out there near Southern Pines. We took over this farm for the weekend and about 50 people shifted from Chapel Hill to there and this event went on. I recall standing next to a lake talking to these two gals. It was 4 o’clock in the morning and I announced that I was going to go back to Myrtle Beach. I would hitchhike back to Myrtle Beach. So I went out on the road and started hitchhiking. I had just been for two days at this “brawl” in the woods and looked a sight. It was amazing that anybody picked me up. It took me a day to hitchhike back there. As I got closer and closer to town, I was filled with the desire to go get a job at this Hardee’s hamburger stand.
A couple of years before, I had known a fellow, Will Bullard, who had a job at the King Burger on Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill. I remember standing there with a couple of friends. We used to go over there and buy fish sandwiches. I remember thinking to myself, This is the greatest job in the world. All you have to do is turn the hamburger. This registered with me. So I came back to Myrtle Beach and here was my chance to go get a job at a hamburger stand. So I went and applied for the job the next day and the man hired me. It was a buck an hour. So I got this job and started working there. I was working at the job several days, during which time I was reading a book, Mysticism: A Study of the Christian Mystics, by Evelyn Underhill. During my dinner break one night, this fellow worker came in and said, “Marshall! Do you know anything about mysticism?!” I looked at him and said, “Well I know a little bit.” I didn’t know what else to say. In truth I couldn’t understand anything (laughter)! He said, “Have you ever heard of a mystic named Meher Baba?” I said, “No, I have never heard of a mystic named Meher Baba. “Who’s he?” He said, “I know some people that are interested in him.” That was the extent of that conversation.
I went home that night and the next morning I was sitting on my parents’ sofa and I picked up Look magazine. I opened up to the “Letters to the Editor” and in the column was a response to the article about LSD that had been so distasteful to me. I read this letter which said we should remember the words of the foremost spiritualist teacher of our time. Then the writer gave Meher Baba’s statement on drugs. I was halfway through this statement when I had the realization that these words were coming from the very core of existence, the absolute source of being. These were words of the most profound nature. I had never in my life had this experience or anything approaching it.
I went back to work that night and I approached my coworker, Tommy LeClare, and I grabbed him and I said, “Tell me about Meher Baba!” He didn’t know much, but he had a connection with the Haynes family, so he gave me their address. At that time they were living in Myrtle Beach just a few blocks from where my parents lived. The next morning I went to Happy House, where the Hayneses lived, which was then located downtown and later was moved to the Center. This must have been a Sunday morning, and I approached the back door of their house looking for them. I knocked on the door. There was a screen porch up a few steps. Out comes this woman in a robe and curlers, who turns out to be Jane Haynes. She looked at me and discreetly reached up and latched the screen door (laughter). I looked up at her and asked, “Are you a disciple of Avatar Baba?” Her hand went up and unlatched the door. So I went in and we sat in her living room for a few minutes. I remember looking at a picture of Baba that was over her fireplace. We talked and she made a phone call to Elizabeth Patterson. I had my car and followed her out to the Center.
So I came to Dilruba and there I met both Kitty and Elizabeth. We spoke for just a few minutes and Elizabeth then drove me into the Center. I can remember that day so clearly—seeing trees as we drove down the road. Allan Cohen was there. As I far as I can remember, it was the 3rd of June 1966. He was staying in the Lookout Cabin. He was working on his PhD and was writing something. Elizabeth got ahold of him, took me to him, and left us talking. He reached in his pocket and pulled out this card, one of Baba’s statements, “To penetrate into the essence . . .” and gave it to me to read. That’s the very definition— to the point. I spent the day and evening here at the Center.
In those days, most of the people who came to the Center had met Baba. Very few came that had not. I was here for a week or so. I quit my job immediately. Then I decided to go back to Chapel Hill because this was incredible news and I wanted to share it with my friends. They were this circle of people who were genuine seekers. Kitty and Elizabeth loaded me up with pamphlets and I hitchhiked back. I remember walking across the UNC campus toward Franklin Street and I went, maybe, into Harry’s and it took maybe three minutes for me to get back into drugs and to completely blow the whole thing. But I kept talking about Baba.
I went back to Myrtle Beach, back to Chapel Hill, and back and forth. I wasn’t using a lot of drugs, but it had such a hold on me, as I was so involved. It was just impossible on the face of it to stop. So Baba was weening me off the drugs. I continued to meet many people who had been with Baba—an extraordinarily rich collection of people who had met Him under all circumstances. Fred and Ella Winterfeldt came on their vacation. Ralph and Stella [Hernandez] came up from Florida. Julia [Mavris]. Lyn and Phyllis Ott had just moved to town and were just moving into their house. Phyllis tells the story of what must have been my first day on the Center. Apparently, I was at the beach, maybe with Allan Cohen, walking along, and Phyllis was on the beach. We met. She asked me apparently if I was a Baba lover and apparently I said “Yes.” Even Phyllis will tell you she was shocked! (laughter) Shocked at the quality of people that Baba was attracting. Oh well!
As time went on, I talked to everyone in Chapel Hill about Baba, giving out his pamphlets and pictures. Simultaneously, I was probably the worst possible example that one could present in my personal life. Couldn’t be worse! Beyond hypocrisy. Later, Winnie Barrett (who was married), who I was very close to in those days, made the comment that in our circle, people assumed I was on top of some kind of giant joke. You couldn’t have said what I said and then do what I did. (laughter) It was impossible!
During this time I had also been taking a lot of Methedrine, and that autumn, me and a couple of friends were shooting this Methedrine and one of the guys had a stroke. It resulted in our being arrested. We were thrown out of school and it was quite a big deal. Front-page stories in all of the newspapers in North Carolina. In those days, the Charlotte paper was the dominant local paper here in Myrtle Beach. So news spread. I was incarcerated, and my parents had to get me out. I was expelled from the University. I came back to Myrtle Beach and after a day or so I came out to the Center, shameless. I showed up at Dilruba. I remember Kitty and Elizabeth looking at me when I came in and Kitty said, “Are you all right?” That was the only comment about the entire thing. They gave me a key and I came back into the Center. It would have been difficult to screw up more badly than I had.
So I spent that winter of 1966-1967 here in Myrtle Beach and went back to Chapel Hill occasionally. I went up there for New Year’s Eve, which was the last time I ever took drugs. This is what it took. In the old public library, my friend David Southerland and I took a lot of LSD, then shot up Methedrine. Nothing happened! Nothing happened! You can’t do what we did and have nothing happen. Since I couldn’t give it up, Baba took it away. That was it. It was gone.
Occasionally friends came down here [to Myrtle Beach]. Dick Anthony, Ray Cass, Lucius Shepherd. They came down and stayed at the Center. There was this budding interest in Baba in these people. In approximately April 1967, Dick Anthony was here and was staying in the Lake Cabin. I remember sitting with him and talking. He was one of a number of people involved in a “Be In” event which was happening around the country in those days. Big parties. They were going to rent a coliseum in Durham, the civic center or the Armory, and bring down a group from New York called the Godz and there would be a big dance. And as we talked, I mentioned that this fellow Rick Chapman, who had been in India and had met Baba, was coming back to the States and was to give talks around the country. So Dick said, “Why don’t we have him come and give a talk at this dance and then afterwards?” It seemed like a good idea. It was very rare that anybody saw Baba. He was in seclusion and drawing His work to a close. It was a very, very special thing. Even though Rick’s contact with Him was limited in terms of time, it was extraordinary that it happened at all.
This was actually very close to the date of this event. So we spoke to Kitty and Elizabeth and they said, “Wonderful. We’ll arrange that.” So they cabled Baba in India requesting that Rick do this. Rick then arrived back in the States and cables began to fly back and forth. He had not planned to come to the South. He had planned to go to more sophisticated areas. Apparently the order from Baba came to him to go do this in Chapel Hill. He was staying with Fred and Ella Winterfeldt in New York. Kitty and Elizabeth apparently came to the conclusion that there needed to be an adult along and that Henry Kashouty would be the appropriate person. Henry lived and still does in Hampton, Virginia. At that point he was about 45 and he had had significant experience with Baba. They cabled Baba asking permission for Henry to accompany Rick on this trip.
One of the games in those days was to always have your name mentioned in a letter or a cable so that Baba would read it. I was standing there when they sent off that cable. Because the plan was that I was going to travel up there with them to Chapel Hill, I asked Kitty, “Shouldn’t you ask permission for me too?” (laughter) Kitty said, “No, no. You’re the link.” So I didn’t get my name mentioned. We didn’t get a cable back. But the day arrived and Henry showed up in this sports car and the three of us piled in, off for Chapel Hill with the goal of arriving at this party. Even though I was not using drugs at this time, I remember standing on the porch of Dilruba, looking at Kitty, and saying, “Kitty, I am going off to this dance. It’s going to take a lot of energy. Wouldn’t it be all right if I took just a little pill?” And she looked at me and said, “Oh no, no. Baba will give you all the energy you need.”
So we drove off and got to this event at the Durham Armory crowded with people, jammed with people. We walked in and there’s this giant Day-Glo of Baba behind the bandstand. We were there and I was full of energy just like Kitty had predicted. It was a great big party. Rick got up at the intermission and announced in this sort of Rick Chapman style, “I’ve just returned from India and I’ve met this man, Avatar Meher Baba. And you think you’re high! He’s the HIGHEST of the high.” At which point, all these paper cups and stuff (laughter) were thrown at him. People started booing Rick because Baba’s name and message on drugs had spread. Marshall, the hypocrite, had done his work. No one to my knowledge accepted it. Rick announced a talk the next day in Chapel Hill at the Wesley Foundation.
The next day, we were there; Rick, Henry, and myself, and the two of them gave this talk to perhaps seventy people. It was really quite a crowd. When it was over, Rick went to the airport and Henry back to Virginia, and a day or so later I hitchhiked back to Myrtle Beach. Then I went out to Dilruba right away and was met at the door by Kitty. She said, “You’d be interested in this.” It was the cable from India. It was from Mani and it gave Baba’s permission for Henry Kashouty to accompany Rick Chapman to Meher Baba’s darshan in Chapel Hill.
In the next month, probably 20 or 25 people came to the Center from the group that had heard the talk. People began to come because Baba had indeed given darshan. A remarkable group of people. And out of that grew one of the core situations of Baba’s work in America. So my little role was to carry His name up there to Chapel Hill and it went on from there. I think that for me, coming to Meher Baba was this ten- or eleven-month process from June 1966 through April of 1967 when Baba gave darshan in Chapel Hill. It was so intertwined with the destiny of Chapel Hill, the destiny of Baba’s work there. I have been here at the Center essentially since then.
There was this wonderful, extraordinary connection between Chapel Hill and the Center. These people would come down here constantly and this would give me great pleasure because these people were my friends and extraordinary people, every one. The group formed. There had always been group heads. Fred and Ella with the New York group, Ivy [Duce] in San Francisco. Chapel Hill, where no one had known of Baba for more than three weeks, the question was, “Who’s going to be the group head?” So they wrote to Baba, and the answer was that He would be the group head. Now that’s pretty flattering, I think (laughter). Or it’s a statement from Baba that He had to take this group of people on himself (laughter). Later Eruch made the often-repeated comment that Baba had very much liked the Chapel Hill group. Because they were not afraid to take chances.
So that’s how I came to Meher Baba. And of course the adventure continues, as it does for each of us.
To be here during those days was extraordinary because Baba’s work was so intense. The Center, which had been a very quiet place, now became a very active place. I had my hand in that. It was amazing to be here. The group took off in Chapel Hill and Baba’s name spread to outposts of civilization like Durham and even Raleigh. In the summer of ’68, it said in the Family Letters that Baba had finished his work at Guruprasad, and then in October there was a letter from India that Baba had called a meeting of men workers, to prepare for a darshan in the Spring.
Kitty and Elizabeth had access to Baba the way that the resident mandali did, so they would get information that would not be circulated around the country. Our little community, ten or twelve people, had access to that type of thing. There were always letters back and forth. I mentioned before about people always wanting to put their name in them. Let’s just say that Baba rarely mentioned my name. (laughter) Really, only once in a letter to Kitty.
Then I was living in Conway and this call came from Elizabeth. And the message was to come over to Dilruba as quickly as possible. When driving over, the thought crossed my mind that Baba might have dropped his body, because we knew his health had been incredibly delicate. I arrived at Dilruba and our community was gathered. Elizabeth met me at the front door. She looked at me, took me into one of the rooms, and described how she had woke up that morning with the thought I know that my Redeemer liveth. And then she told me that Fred had received a phone call in New York from India that Baba had dropped His body.
While sitting there, I looked out the window and a car drove up and two guys got out and came to the front door. They were showing up at the Center and they wanted a tour. So I went back to the kitchen where Kitty was and I said, “Kitty! There are two guys at the front door wanting to find out about Baba. What should I do?!” She said, “Give them a tour.” And I did. I remember walking up from Dilruba towards Baba’s house and it was the first time I had to articulate that Baba was gone. I would normally have said that Meher Baba lives in India. I had to tell them. We went on and we toured the Center. That was an amazing day! Baba’s presence flooded this place. It was as if He was always just around the corner of a building or was just about to enter the room. An extraordinary message of: “I am not gone.”
It has occurred to me many times that His presence is stronger now than before he dropped His body. As I am sitting here I remember that the question that Tommy LeClare posed to me at Hardees: “Do you know anything about mysticism?” And I lied. (laughter) But now I realize that, “What more is there than the presence of God in one’s life?” I’m having a revelation. I never made this connection before. “What is there for an ordinary human being in terms of mystical experience, other than that we know Meher Baba is with us right now, literally, in the room?”
So in 1969, we went to India. Myrtle Beach went as a group. Eduardo Nunez showed up. He had heard of Baba in January. There was a gal from the Chapel Hill group named Ila Murray, and her grandmother came on the trip. Did the whole thing! I never saw her again but it was an extraordinary thing. The karma of people.
The first time I went into the Samadhi for Baba’s darshan, my friend Henry Kashouty was playing “Begin the Beguine” on the trombone outside. So in my life Henry’s been there twice: Baba’s darshan in Chapel Hill and Marshall’s little darshan with Baba. Then I went to Guruprasad for Baba’s darshan. Having Baba’s darshan was one of the pivotal events in my life. I remember having had the darshan and recognizing at that moment that this would be a good day to just die. I came out and was completely stunned, turned around. I was leaning on the rail of the patio and Mani came up and told me she had for me a sadra for the Chapel Hill group. Not long after that, I was talking with my friend Bruce Hoffman who was there, and he told he had just been given a sadra for the New York young people’s group, and there was no New York young people’s group. (laughter) I said, “Yeah, I’ve just been given a sadra for the Chapel Hill group, and I don’t live in Chapel Hill.” But the sadra made its way back up there to its proper home. It stayed here at the Center for a while and then ended up there.
I think anything one can do, or is given to do, in contact with Baba is an extraordinary gift. It was a great privilege to be involved with Chapel Hill, to have my coming-to-Baba as part of this giant coming-to-Baba. I certainly thank Him for that. Wonderful, beyond wonderful event to have witnessed. Great thing.
[For an account of the Chapel Hill darshan, see Barbara Scott’s book Golden Thread: Meher Baba—Chapel Hill—1967 (2001). —KCB]