School 14

Marilyn Mitchell

September 13, 1944 ~ December 21, 2021 (age 77)

Obituary

Marilyn Mitchell, 77, died on the day the sunlight begins to grow longer: the winter solstice. She was a person who brought more light into the world. 

Marilyn had an advanced degree in hugging, prolonged and profound hugs that were like receiving therapy. She was a tranquilizer of the flesh who had a smile and laugh that was honest and pure and revealed her soul.

She was preceded in death in 2014 by her husband, Michael Weisbrot. She is survived by her children, Joshua and Lila Weisbrot, and their spouses, Nancy Einhart and Ryan Bockelmann. She is also survived by her brother, David Mitchell; his wife, Louise; and their children, Alita and DJ. 

Marilyn was raised in Oakville, Connecticut, by second-generation immigrant factory workers. Her life’s work was to be a helping human — something bigger than the small town could offer — and as soon as she graduated from college in 1966, Marilyn moved to New York City. She spent several years as a social worker for children in foster care and passionately demonstrated against social injustice. Her serene, gentle spirit veiled powerful, intentional rage against inhumanity and greed. 

Marilyn met her like-minded husband Michael in the early ‘70s and became mother to their son Josh, beginning what she saw as her most meaningful, gratifying, and joyful role. Michael and Marilyn wanted their children to be raised in the country and moved to a small house in Lomontville, NY, in 1980. Their daughter, Lila, would be born in that house, and they remained there, building a community around them, for the next 40 years.  

Marilyn was an exquisite mother to her young children. When they entered grade school, she earned her Masters and became a special education reading specialist in Rondout Valley Schools for nearly two decades. Students found in her a kind and extremely patient, calm, loving, and dedicated teacher. Marilyn loved literature and valued education as a tool for achieving social equity. She continued on well after her retirement as a tutor and consultant. She spent countless hours volunteering at the Stone Ridge Library, helping to run the children’s story hour, book fairs, and a host of supportive activities. 

Nature thrilled her. She made careful work of walking barefoot by the ocean, examining treasures of the forest floor, and sitting by the windows of her home watching the birds she fed in winter. She found bounding joy in the simple beauty of her surroundings and in her deep loving relationships. In her years as a widow, she rediscovered a sense of independence and strength and treated herself to fun and adventure. She traveled to Europe in search of her roots and lived solo in Venice, Italy. Accompanied by Lila, she ventured to California to trace the migration of monarch butterflies and their astounding display. She was mother supreme and surrogate grandmother to so many, an Earth Mother. She said the face of a newborn baby was the closest thing to a window between two realms of existence, something she now gets to witness firsthand. 

She gave her children a model of the power of human kindness, patience, and love. She demonstrated her political beliefs by contributing the small amount of money she could afford to organizations that worked for the causes she believed in. But more impactfully, Marilyn lived her life as a political act that placed the highest value on empathy and justice. 

If you didn’t know Marilyn, you missed something special. We will miss her tiramisu, her lasagna, and her unassuming unconditional love. The universe has embraced her now. A grand mutual squeeze. The world could really use a Marilyn Mitchell hug.

A memorial celebrating Marilyn’s life will be planned later this spring when the weather allows a safe outdoor gathering. Donations in her memory can be made to the Stone Ridge Library Foundation at https://stoneridgelibrary.org/donate/ or via Venmo @StoneRidgeLibrary-Foundation.

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