To Mari's family, and her friends outside of Olivia circles...my deepest sympathies. Mari was one of those people that made this world a better place.
Many have written to echo my words at the Olivia site, which are included below. Her many wonderful character traits were so well known.
Like all of you, I was immediately shocked and saddened when I found out last week of our great loss.
I met Mari at the aforementioned Lifetime event at the Pantages back in 1996 (followed by that great time at Denny's after the show), and was lucky enough to become close friends with Mari afterwards. For years, Mari and I would email each other several times every day (Mon-Fri), and I can't even count the number of times she came out to CA to detox her mind by walking the beach in Malibu for a week or so.
Throughout Mari's many ups and downs, she never let it effect how she treated others...with warmth, generosity and consideration as one would treat a friend. She got to know all the folks in Malibu who worked at her favorite places (like Ben and Jerry's), and by the time she would go back to Chicago from her retreats in Malibu, she had befriended all the dogs along the miles of beach from her pier-area motel room to way past The Colony...and was always saddened that she had to say good-bye to them before she left.
On a personal level...Mari never forgot my birthday, and got me so many Christmas presents and birthday presents over the years that I can't even remember all of them. I wish I could say I came somewhere close to returning all the acts of kindness...
Mari always thought of all her fellow Olivia folks as family members; your problems became her concerns, and your achievements counter-balanced her struggles at work and and her struggles with her health. Never have I met anyone so concerned with the well-being of others.
It has been an extraordinarily long-time since I last saw Mari...over two years. Mari typically absolutely refused to allow her picture to be taken, ducking away from the camera at any cost. But luckily, on that last day that I saw her, she relented, and allowed a shot of her standing near the top of Runyon Canyon with fellow OO member Gary Kwan. URL for the pic:
Though I typically only saw Mari for brief periods once or twice each year, for concerts and all the walks in Malibu, she was one of the closest friends I've ever had. The distance seemed irrelevant with all the email and all the trips out here to L.A., and it's such a horrible thought knowing that I'll never get to speak to, or see, Mari ever again. Her tireless friendship was more than I deserved, and never will the cherished fond memories of her be far from my mind.