Marilyn "Toddy" Richman, nee Melvoin, 94, April 24, 2021. Loving daughter of the late Charles and the late Selma Melvoin, and sister of the late Hugo (Loie) Melvoin. Beloved wife of the late William S. Richman. Devoted partner of the late Dr. Alex Hilkevitch. Loving mother of Daniel Richman, Elizabeth (Mitch Dayan) Richman, and Ruth Richman. Adored grandmother of Sam (Jayme) Besser, Ariel (Yaakov) Sugarman, Wiley Kornbluh, and Rachel Kornbluh. Doting great-grandmother to Aviva, Naomi, and Liam Besser, and to Shayna Baila, Chavi, and Leah Sugarman. Loved by step-grandchildren Isaac (Talia) Dayan, Max (Mariya) Dayan, and Stanley (Sara) Dayan, and their 10 children. Beloved aunt and cousin to many.
Toddy had a quirky sense of humor. She laughed freely and often. She would frequently break into song, prompted by a word or phrase someone had just spoken. She wrote a unique ditty for each child and grandchild. For special occasions, she composed funny, pithy poems in rhyming couplets. And when she felt moved, she jotted down more pensive reflections.
She was a loving, creative grandmother and great-grandmother who kept a collection of costumes, musical instruments, puppets and props -- along with a puppet theatre -- upstairs in a spare room. The kids and their friends found it irresistible. She baked apple pies every Thanksgiving with her grandchildren and crafted classic family meals, like "upside-downside chili pie." There was a song for that dish too, now sung by the great-grandchildren.
Born in Chicago in 1927, Toddy grew up in Wilmette and attended New Trier High School, where she began a lifelong pursuit of acting. During and after attending Wellesley College, she was a stage and TV actress. Over the years, her flair for acting grew into an interest in drama's life-enhancing potential.
Toddy was the founding director of the Institute for Therapy through the Arts and one of the founders of the National Association of Drama Therapy. She received her Masters of Education from the National College of Education and completed the Teacher Education Program at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. She taught drama therapy courses at Columbia College and National-Louis University. She served as registry chair for the National Association of Drama Therapy and presented workshops and papers for 23 annual conferences. During her time at ITA, she provided drama therapy for preschool and grade-school children, adolescents, and the elderly. She worked as a clinical consultant to the ITA staff and served as chairman emeritus of its board for as long as she was able.
Toddy loved Judaism -- its melodies, its philosophies, its prayers. Over several years, she taught creative dramatics to children at Congregation Solel in Highland Park. A strong believer in the importance of Jewish education, Toddy served as a long-time member of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago and was honored in 2009 with its "Rambam Award" for her service to the community.
Always a fan of outdoor activities, especially fishing, she served as her childrens' Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader. Toddy played piano, sang, and shared her appreciation for the arts with her children and grandchildren. She coordinated a wide range of family vacations that always had a learning component, exposing her kids to experiences that she rightly said we'd "appreciate more later."
Toddy believed in inclusion, helping to keep our far-flung extended family connected. She was an optimist who believed that people are basically good at heart. She was full of love and kindness. She will be deeply missed by the many people she touched.
We will celebrate her life together some time later this year. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Institute for Therapy through the Arts, 2130 Green Bay Road, Evanston, IL 60201, https://itachicago.org
; or Makom Solel Lakeside, 1301 Clavey Road, Highland Park, Illinois 60035, www.mymakom.org
; or the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL 60062, www.bjeecc.info
Published by Chicago Tribune on May 2, 2021.