Marsden carries Torch for local club

September 22, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like ...

Jim Marsden

Age: 59

Occupation: Engineer in the Electronic Products Department at Volvo Powertrain

Hometown: Hagerstown

Where would you see Marsden? Marsden is treasurer of The Torch Club of Hagerstown, which meets at the Four Points Sheraton. He has been a member of the club for about 10 years.

The Torch Club is unique in that its purpose is to provide a forum for professionals to meet and discuss issues. Once a month from September to May, the group meets over dinner, followed by a 20- to 25-minute presentation by a member on the topic of his or her choice.


"It's a way for us to keep our brains active in something besides work," Marsden said. "We hear a lot of different viewpoints. It gives you something to really think about."

Marsden is quick to add the club isn't for everyone. He said it's not service-oriented like many local clubs, but Marsden said that discussing different issues can "stir up" in people a desire to do something in the community.

He said that not everyone is comfortable with the idea of researching a topic, then speaking in front of a group. Those who are Torch Club members find it helps them polish skills that are necessary to be successful in the business world, Marsden said.

The Torch Club of Hagerstown marks its 54th year in existence this month. Since it began, groups have spun off in Waynesboro and Chambersburg, Pa., Winchester, Va., Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Frederick and Cumberland, Md., Marsden said.

The Hagerstown club has more than 30 members, and Marsden said his wife, Mindy, who is membership chair, would be happy to sign up more members.

Current members include engineers, artists, lawyers, doctors, newspaper editors and Realtors. With only nine meetings a year, Marsden said members only have to present a paper about once every three years.

Marsden was born in Baltimore. His family moved to Hagerstown when he was 6 months old for his father's job with Fairchild.

A 1965 graduate of North Hagerstown High School, Marsden earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Bucknell University. He met his wife in college, and they have been married for 38 years.

Marsden said his father was a member of The Torch Club of Hagerstown in the 1950s, so he was familiar with the club. It wasn't until he was invited to attend a meeting by a current member that he thought of joining.

"I've enjoyed Torch Club," Marsden said. "It's a really interesting way to spend an evening once a month."

Hobbies: Marsden said work has been taking up a lot of time lately, but when time permits, his hobbies include playing classical guitar and building model airplanes.

"It's very different than building big engines," Marsden said of model airplanes.

He also said he maintains a "fairly large lawn" on the small Leitersburg Pike farm where he and his wife have lived for 30 years. Marsden said they used to raise their own beef cattle and chicken, but don't anymore because it's too time-consuming.

What does Marsden like best about Washington County? "Nearly everything," Marsden said. "Of course, the fact that it's home and I've been here long enough to know people and where to go for things."

He likes that it still is somewhat rural - being able to look out the lobby windows at Volvo Powertrain and see cornfields.

Marsden also enjoys the climate. He said it's far enough north that there's a change of seasons, yet far enough south that shoveling snow in the winter isn't a constant.

For more information about The Torch Club of Hagerstown, call Mindy Marsden at 301-790-3132.

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, call Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024, or send an e-mail to

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