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For the Marshalls, American Dream Lies in the Intangibles

With four generations of family members in San Bruno, the Marshalls have enjoyed business and political success. But the American Dream means much more than that to them.

The Marshalls are quite well known in San Bruno for their involvement in so many aspects of life in the city, from business and politics to sports and just the legacy of their family.

But more than their name, their story is very much an example of how the American Dream has been realized locally.

That dream started four generations ago with Augustine Liberti, a longtime San Bruno Realtor who was the first female real estate agent in San Mateo County to reach the $1 million club, said Bob Marshall Jr., son of former mayor Bob Marshall and Liberti’s grandson.

According to Bob Jr., Liberti taught Marshall about the real estate business and the rest is history. Marshall started in 1959 and has been in San Bruno ever since, literally solidifying the Marshalls as a household name throughout the city.

Now, several members of the family work at the real estate business, including Bob Jr., who is also a planning commissioner, past president of the San Bruno Chamber of Commerce and past president of the San Bruno Lions Club; his sister Anne Oliva; and his brother Stephan, who is on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and is a past president of the San Bruno Rotary Club. Their other brother John owns Marsetti, a landscaping company based in San Bruno. And Bob Jr.’s wife, Marilyn, owns hair salon on San Mateo Avenue. Not to mention, Bob Marshall Sr. served 12 years as mayor, earning him the nickname “Mr. San Bruno,” and was a district governor for the Lions Club.

In fact, their family has a real pull-yourself-up-from-your-bootstraps story. Bob Marshall's parents grew up in San Francisco, but they moved to Las Vegas where his father became a dealer at a casino. He later moved his way up to becoming an executive host at Caesar's Palace. Bob Marshall himself was a shoe salesman before working his way up to getting in the real estate business. It has been that work ethic that has been instilled in the family for generations, Bob Jr. said.

But even with all of their business accomplishments, Bob Jr. says that living the American Dream for him has never been about the money.

“It’s more about reputation, being comfortable and living in San Bruno,” he said, adding that he is always reassured knowing that in San Bruno he’ll always have security, community and family nearby.

It used to be true that achieving the American Dream meant owning a home or a business, and that has been true for the Marshalls.

But as Patch’s new series, , will show, all the changes happening right now throughout the country are perhaps changing how people define the American Dream.

At least for the Marshalls, Bob Jr. said, the American Dream isn’t quite something that can be put into words or counted in cash because it’s the intangibles that matter.

An example, he said, is his recent 50th birthday, where his parents gave him a party and invited 50 of his closest friends.

At the party, his parents told him something that made him reflect on how far he’s come in life and how much he loves his community.

“To have your parents come up to you and say, ‘You’ve still got a good group of friends,’ and to be able to live near them is great,” Bob Jr. said.

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