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Borel, Marcia Henderson

Published onMar 11, 2021
Borel, Marcia Henderson

Marcia Henderson Borel, 2016

Commissioned by University Museums and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. U2017.100

MARCIA HENDERSON BOREL (BS ’78 family environment) and husband Jim (BS ’78 agricultural business) are proud Iowa Staters wherever they go. Although they now call West Chester, Pennsylvania and Johnston, Iowa home, Jim’s career with DuPont took them around the world.

“Jim and I married the fall after we graduated from Iowa State and set off on a corporate odyssey of nine moves in 20 years, including three international assignments,” Marcia recalls. “Along the way, we had two beautiful children, met many interesting people, made many friends, learned about other cultures, and in doing so, saw our own in a new way.”

Marcia was employed first as a social worker, then as a volunteer, mainly in programs for seniors. “Mostly, I raised our children and was the support person for the team that we became in our moves,” she said, “I used every skill learned in my studies to do this. Along the way, art grew to be a meaningful part of my life. My own art form became Japanese Ikebana, ephemeral and interesting as life itself.”

The Borels are active ISU supporters. In 2015, they funded creation of the first artwork for Iowa State by Rose Frantzen, who hails from Marcia’s hometown of Maquoketa and had coincidentally painted Marcia’s mother as part of Portrait of Maquoketa. The painting, Do You Know What’s Inside This Flower? George Washington Carver Mentors a Young Henry A. Wallace is part of the Art on Campus Collection and currently hangs in Curtiss Hall.

“Both of our families are multigenerational farmers, or involved somehow in agriculture,” Marcia explained. “This gift is meant to honor the magic of that connection between teacher and student, academia and application, discovery and development, seeds and growth – and potential. All wrapped up in it is the love for our fathers, and all farmers, whose lives’ work feeds the world.”

Cyclone spirit runs strong in Marcia’s family. Her parents were Iowa State sweethearts and her father, John Henderson, was Jackson County Extension Director for 40 years. Her two brothers, a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law are ISU alumni.

Marcia admits that she’s “always been a lucky girl,” citing her love of family, hometown and beautiful life experiences. When asked to be one of the faces painted at the Iowa State Fair in 2016, however, Marcia wasn’t sure she could accept, given her treatment schedule for breast cancer.

“Getting to the fair in August became our goal,” she said. “With the help of my Iowa State sweetheart, on the very last sitting on the very last day of the fair, we made it! Rose magically captured it all. Again, I am lucky, blessed and very grateful.”

Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Wendy Wintersteen (2016): The Iowa State Fair connection of Rose Frantzen’s 2016 portraits drew me to select Marcia Borel, an Iowa State alum who was very active in 4-H in her youth. In 1975, Marcia was one of two Iowa 4-Hers who hosted President Gerald Ford as he visited the State Fair. Also, I felt there was a special symmetry in having Rose Frantzen paint Marcia’s portrait, because over a decade ago Rose painted Marcia’s mother as part of her Portrait of Maquoketa project.

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