Marilyn Tobocman

May 23, 1934January 3, 2018

TOBOCMAN Fierce advocate respected attorney, "professional citizen", beloved mother, grandmother, sister and friend – died on January 3, 2018 surrounded by her family after a difficult and courageous battle with cancer. At 83 years old, Marilyn still carried the same workload as Principal Attorney/Senior Litigator in the Civil Rights Section of the Ohio Attorney General's Office as she did when she took the job more than two decades earlier. Marilyn's legal career started after she raised her four daughters and was inspired by her work with the League of Women Voters and other civic organizations and activist movements, specifically related to fair housing. At the age of 47, she enrolled at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law where she was twice the age of her classmates. After graduating in 1983, she spent the next decade working at a nonprofit organization and a civil rights law firm before joining the Ohio Attorney General's Office, where she quickly became lead attorney on some of its most complex civil rights cases. In addition to fighting housing discrimination, she was a champion for the legal rights of women, people with disabilities and victims of human trafficking. In 2001, she tore down gender barriers common at country clubs by obtaining an order that granted all members equal access. In 2003, she was part of a legal team that won a $4.3 million settlement against Farmers Insurance, which was accused of offering substandard insurance products in minority neighborhoods. More recently, she settled a case involving hundreds of housing units with barriers to people with mobility impairments. Today, those units are accessible. Marilyn was passionate about ensuring equal access to justice, and tireless about standing up for those who were not in a position to help themselves. She attributed this drive to lessons she learned from her father, a Polish immigrant and entrepreneur who instilled in her the belief that America was supposed to be a place of opportunity for everybody. Marilyn reflected that one of the most rewarding parts of her advocacy work was helping others find their own voice. She focused on education to ensure tenants knew their rights and that landlords understood the law. Marilyn believed that, when faced with discrimination, the best results often were achieved when victims had the chance to stand up for themselves and set a good example for their children. Beyond her work, Marilyn enjoyed music, art, travel and great books. But the law was her true passion. She worked to better the profession by serving in volunteer leadership roles with the Cleveland Bar Association Judicial Selection Committee and Government Attorneys Section, and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Alumni Association Board of Trustees. Marilyn also served as a mentor for Cleveland-Marshall law students, Fair Housing Law clinic instructor and adjunct faculty member. She was a regular guest lecturer and published author on civil rights issues. Marilyn's exceptional commitment to social justice and love for the law was widely recognized. She was honored for her accomplished legal career by Crain's as the 2013 recipient of the annual General & In-House Counsel Award in the Government Category, selected by Crain's for the 2016 inaugural class of "8 over 80", and honored by the Cuyahoga Community College Stokes Leadership Initiative with a tribute in 2017 highlighting her life and career as an advocate. In addition, she has received several awards and recognition from the Ohio Attorney General for her many achievements and professionalism. Marilyn will be remembered for her intelligence, sense of justice, compassion, genuine care for her clients and colleagues, advocacy skills, and drive to make the world a better place. Through life's trials, Marilyn remained completely committed to her career, devoted to her daughters, and a loving and intellectually challenging mentor and role model for her grandchildren. She is survived by her daughters Sharon (Dave Wallace) Sobol Jordan, Shelley (Kevin) Cummings, Liz ( Kevin) Sobol Kurland and the late Karen M. Sobol. Devoted grandmother of Anne Jordan, Dave Wallace Jr., Grace Wallace; Jake, Rachel, Katherine and Anna Cummings; and Ally and Ben Kurland. Dear sister of Dr. William (Edith-deceased) Tobocman and Marcia Toby Tobocman. Services will be held Sunday, January 7 at 4 PM at THE TEMPLE-TIFIERETH ISRAEL 26000 Shaker Blvd. Beachwood, OH. Family will receive friends at 483 North St. Chagrin Falls, OH. SUNDAY FOLLOWING SERVICES UNTIL 8 PM, MONDAY AND TUESDAY 2 PM-4 PM & 6 PM-8 PM. To honor her memory, friends who wish may consider a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Amnesty International USA, or Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.


  • Memorial Service

    Sunday, January 7, 2018


Marilyn Tobocman

have a memory or condolence to add?


January 15, 2018

May the family of Marilyn Tobocman find comfort in knowing that she is in God's memory and that he noticed her selfless works on behalf of those who needed an advocate. She must have been very proud to see her children carry on her legacy in various capacities.

January 15, 2018

My husband and I where so very sorry to hear of your loss at Revealtion 21:3,4 gives us encouragement and hope.

Denise Knecht

January 8, 2018

Dear Marilyn, I know you are listening. You always did. Remember when we first met in the offices of the Women's Law Fund in the early 1980's. You were ever so confidant in spite of my "new attorney" confidence. When you began practicing, it was clear that you would make a mark in the advocacy of victims of discrimination. When we sat on various boards together over the years, your contributions were always thought-provoking. When we had dinner a couple times last summer, I was amazed at your energy. I decided to use you as my guidepost for retirement planning! You have been an inspiration to so many. I miss you already.

Ken Kowalski

January 8, 2018

I had the privilege of working with Marilyn at Housing Advocates and her civil rights law firm. I was always amazed at her dedication and hard work for the causes she so deeply believed in. She was a pleasure to work with - plus, she loved to laugh. I will miss her greatly.

Dustin Keith

January 7, 2018

Sharon and Family,
My heart breaks for you. I'm sorry I never had the opportunity to meet Marilyn, as it sounds like she was one amazing woman. Let her legacy live on and celebrate wonderfully.

January 5, 2018

"Pioneer, Trailblazer, Ambassador of Goodwill"
Surely, Marilyn was a true servant of the people"

Ron Colvin, Painesville, OH

Jeff Hastings

January 5, 2018

My thoughts and prayers to Marilyn's family. I had the privilege of working with Marilyn at the Attorney General's Office. She was a wonderful person and excellent attorney. The world was made a better place with Marilyn in it and she will be missed.

Amanda VanGaasbeek-Woerner

January 5, 2018

My sincere condolences to Marilyn's family. While a law student, I had the great pleasure of being mentored by Marilyn at the Fair Housing Law Clinic. She was a fierce advocate and a wonderful teacher who will be greatly missed.

Tom Jordan

January 5, 2018

Shared many happy times with Marilyn. We will miss her. Our best to her entire family.

Gregory Clifford

January 5, 2018

My sincere condolences to the family of Marilyn Tobocman. I had the privilege of working with her on the Board of Trustees and several committees of the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association. She was a true professional and always concerned about helping others. Her dedication and commitment will be greatly missed.