Hi my Community of Friends, Families, and Colleagues,
Today I got a shocking and deeply saddening call. Truth is, every couple of years I'd get a call from a total random stranger inquiring about the wellbeing of my dear mentor and teacher, Marilyn Nehls, who taught me all about the Red and Green Learning System.
(Marilyn Nehls, circa 1996)
In the past, I would always assure these callers (who had been trying to reach Marilyn repeatedly without success and had started worrying about her safety) that Marilyn is probably okay and will likely respond to her clients and friends as soon as she is able.
Yet today's call was very different. A random Jewish family in Maryland who treasured Marilyn called and informed me that she had passed away exactly one year ago, on April 24, 2020, during the height of COVID. I had no idea. I am still reeling from the shock of this loss. In 1993, when Marilyn started training me, I was a young and impressionable girl of 17. I loved and adored Marilyn and she meant the world to me. Till today, I have tremendous Hakoras Hatov, gratitude, for the way Marilyn helped shape me both personally and professionally. She left a deep and meaningful mark on me.
Yet I know I'm not alone. For the past 30 years, Marilyn touched the lives of thousands of children and families, especially Jewish families in the NY tri-state area and Baltimore. Although she had no family or children of her own, she endeared herself to those she treated. She literally saved hundreds of Jewish families from the brink of despair with her warmth, sense of humor, brilliance, and expertise. I, as well as many other families, were convinced that there was a spark of a Yiddishe neshama (soul) beating inside Marilyn's chest.
I am reaching out to you, my community of families and colleagues and friends, for ideas of ways to pay tribute to a very special person, and to ensure that her legacy lives on. Also, if you had any positive interactions and experiences with Marilyn, can you please share them with me so that we can share them with the families who admired and respected her, and who will miss her deeply?
I look forward to hear your ideas so that we can collectively do something special in the memory of Marilyn Nehls.
Dr. Devora Samet