Recently an old friend of mine named Bob Utley called and asked for a favor. Bob lost his wife Marsha in January and was having a difficult time moving on. Bob thought that a tribute to Marsha in Card Player, acknowledging her love for poker and poker cruises, would be something that Marsha would have really enjoyed. It might even help give him some closure by seeing a tribute to her.
Well, even though we had known Marsha and Bob for many years, We really were not sure what to write or what to say. Marsha was very special but we didn't know whether we could do her justice. She was bright, articulate, funny, a die-hard UCLA alumnus, and boy did she love to play poker--hold'em was her game and her passion.
On our many cruises that we spent together with the Utleys it was always obvious that Marsha was the one who surpassed everyone else in that passion. She could play the marathon sessions and after some rest be raring to go the next day. The difference between Marsha and many other players who like to play poker was how much she outwardly enjoyed almost savored her poker time. She enjoyed the people she played with, she also liked and was friendly with all the dealers. It makes me wonder where and why along the way many of us lose that genuine love of the game.
As we were thinking about how and what we would write about Marsha, my wife and I received some pictures and a letter from Bob, telling us about "his Marsha." Bob, no one knew Marsha or loved Marsha like you did----so, your own words are the most fitting. So, here they are…
"Marsha and I met in a poker game in Gardena in 1972. She wasn't that good at poker so when we started dating I started teaching her how to better her game. She used to come down and play, just to get away from the pressures of being a lawyer.
We got married in Las Vegas on New Years Eve 1973.
We would play in most of the local poker clubs several times a week.
Then we started going on Poker Cruises. We must have gone on 13 or 14 different ones.
When we traveled anywhere, we would find the local card clubs and stop and play for a few hours, then move on. We really enjoyed this and it added to my very large and growing chip collection.
She even talked about quitting the practice of law and just playing poker. I talked her out of that--she wasn't that good!
I miss her so much!!! I don't know what to do.
This last New Year's Eve we went to Las Vegas for our 26th anniversary and had such a wonderful time. She seemed to really enjoy herself. A couple days later we came home and then on January 12, 2000, she passed away."
Marsha, Bob loves you and we love you and thank-you for all our great memories, and we hope that you are winning in the big "hold 'em game in the sky" and still rooting for your UCLA Buins.