David W. Marston, a former US attorney, former candidate for mayor and governor, and longtime Philadelphia attorney, has died at the age of 80

David W. Marston, 80, of Newtown Square, former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, former Republican candidate for mayor of Philadelphia and Governor of Pennsylvania, longtime corporate attorney, author and veteran, died Thursday, March 2nd , suffering from a stroke at his home.

Mr. Marston practiced US Attorney in Philadelphia from July 1976 to January 1978. He lost in the 1978 Republican primary for governor of Pennsylvania and in the 1979 general election to Democrat William J. Green III for mayor of Philadelphia.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Pennsylvania House and Senate in the early 1970s, after which he served for three years as legislative counsel and special counsel for US Senator Richard S. Schweiker, and served as a corporate attorney at several law firms, including his own, for five decades.

Despite his differences with political rivals and others, Mr. Marston has been regularly praised for his ambition, integrity and unwavering dedication to civic service. When he ran for governor in 1978, he told the Daily News that he wanted public office because he could do more good for people as a politician than as a lawyer.

“I don’t mind taking risks,” he said, “and I like to spend each day doing something that I think is worth doing.”

Mr. Marston (right), then US Attorney in Philadelphia, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Lee F. Laster speak at a press conference in the federal courthouse. . … Read moreFile photo

President Gerald Ford appointed Mr. Marston as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1976, and Mr. Marston successfully prosecuted corrupt politicians from both parties and notable cases of police brutality during his tenure.

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He was suddenly fired in January 1978 after President Jimmy Carter was contacted by a Pennsylvania Democrat who was later convicted in a conflict of interest case and believed to be under investigation by Mr. Marston. The controversial firing sparked political uproar across the country, prompted Republicans and some Democrats to defend his record, and garnered Mr. Marston a degree of political attention.

A Daily News readers’ poll shortly before his sacking found that 3,758 respondents supported Mr. Marston as US attorney and 126 voted against him. Likewise, in 1978, the Washington Post reported that the White House was deluged with phone calls, cables, and letters in support of Mr. Marston.

Mr. Marston was also vocal in his criticism of the shot. But the day he left his office, he told the Daily News: “I feel good about the accomplishments of this office and I want to end on a positive note, not a negative.”

A writer and avid reader, Mr. Marston co-authored Inside Hoover’s FBI: The Top Field Chief Reports in 1984 and published Malice Aforethought: How Lawyers Use Our Secret Rules to Get Rich, Get Sex, Get Even… and Get Away With Es in 1991 He also wrote book reviews and opinion pieces for publications including The Inquirer and Daily News.

He was a part-time faculty member at Temple University in the 1970s, a member of the board of directors of SEPTA, and president of Amtrak Commuter Services Corp in the 1980s.

Mr. Marston doted on his wife and children and would often rush home from the office to have dinner with his family. … Read moreCourtesy of the family

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Longtime Daily News writer Nels Nelson said in 1978, “Personally, he has a certain awkward charm and dry wit, and he’s instantly likeable.” A friend told the New York Times in 1978, “You have to get to know him. He is reserved, conservative in his demeanor, but a good friend and a very easygoing fellow.”

His daughter Karen said: “There was a warmth about him. He could bring out the best in people.”

David Weese Marston was born on July 17, 1942 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He moved to Wyncote with his family when he was 2 years old and graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1960. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1967.

He was class president at both Cheltenham and Maryville, and his wife Linda said: “He always wanted to be the leader and he was a leader. He wanted to help people and improve situations.”

He met Linda Zacherle when they were teenagers. They married in 1966, had a daughter Karen and sons David Jr. and Mike and lived in Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr and Newtown Square. After law school, he spent two years as an officer in the Navy, serving on the USS Norfolk.

Mr. Marston and his wife Karen have been married for over 55 years. . … Read moreCourtesy of the family

Mr. Marston was a boy scout and played baseball and tennis as a boy. He had a lifelong passion for fishing and often took his family out on the bay on Long Beach Island.

He was active in the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for years and continued to drive into the city for Sunday services even after moving to the suburbs. He read the Bible every day, did crossword puzzles, and especially enjoyed exchanging naval stories with his grandson at the Naval Academy.

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In a tribute, his family said Mr. Marston “will be remembered as clever, wise and kind, and a man of the utmost integrity.” His wife said: “He was a great guy. I have a big hole in my heart.”

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Marston is survived by eight grandchildren, one sister, three brothers and other relatives.

A celebration of his life will be held Friday, March 10 at 10:30 am at First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, 201 S. 21st St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103, instead.

Donations on his behalf may be made to the First Presbyterian Church Choir in Philadelphia, 201 S. 21st St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103.

Mr. Marston and his wife Linda pose with their son Mike. Both father and son served in the Navy.. … Read moreCourtesy of the family