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Marlisse Marcus



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Link to Funeral of Marlisse Marcus


Good Bye To Our Beloved Friend And Colleague 

Dear Friends,

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I announce the passing of a close friend, colleague and long-time board member of Mosaic, Marlisse Marcus, who passed away on Saturday, October 24th at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California.

Marlisse had been battling breast cancer since early 2019 and took a brief hiatus from Mosaic. She returned a few months later with the same enthusiasm and vigor that has always inspired us, and even joined us for the 2019 international Jewish Outdoor Escape (JOE) event in Milford, Pennsylvania. Sadly, she returned to the hospital in early October 2020, and succumbed to a recurrence of cancer and kidney failure.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Marlisse had a transformational impact on Mosaic. She jumped in with enthusiasm to just about any task, and held so many leadership positions within Mosaic over the years that it is a wonder that she had any time left over for Peter Small, her devoted partner of over 10 years. The entire Mosaic community wishes him our sincere condolences at this extraordinarily difficult time.

Marlisse began her Mosaic journey as a member of the Greater Los Angeles club over 16 years ago, where she led many spectacular hikes and was very involved with the growth of the club. In 2008, Marlisse attended Mosaic's leadership retreat in Colorado and fell in love with Mosaic, committing herself to getting involved with the growth of the organization.

In 2009,the Los Angeles club joined as an affiliated club of Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America (MOCA) with Marlisse representing the club on the Council of Delegates. That same year, Marlisse was voted onto the International Board of Directors as a member-at-large as well as volunteering to be the Co-Chair of both the 2009 and 2010 International Events! When it was proposed that MOCA create a position to engage volunteers for upcoming JOEs, it was immediately "snapped up" by Marlisse, and thus began her long-term commitment to inspiring both Board and Club Members to volunteer.

In 2011, Marlisse became MOCA's vice president, where she championed retreats for future leaders, akin to the one that she first attended and which provided her with so much inspiration. Simultaneously, she chaired the 2012 International Event. She continued her dedication to making a difference in 2013 by chairing committees that re-defined board member roles and which established a scholarship program for JOE attendees, an initiative that still assists those who could not otherwise afford to attend the gathering.

At the International Event in 2013, Marlisse was re-elected as the organization's Vice President and in 2014 she volunteered to be the liaison between the 2014 International Event Committee and the Board of Directors. But she didn't stop there! In 2014, she volunteered to serve on the International Event awards committee while maintaining the post of Vice President, and finally, at the 2014 International Event, Marlisse was elected to be our President.

Marlisse rolled up her sleeves and jumped right into this role. As President, she instituted the practice of sharing the biographies of every board member with the larger Mosaic community, so members across North America could get to know their MOCA board members. She also served on the 2016 International Event awards committee, pushed for the creation of the newsletter, a 5-year growth plan with an emphasis on attracting younger members, created the Technology Committee, and introduced the custom of beginning our meetings with a D'var Torah delivered by a different Board member every month.

By September 2018, Marlisse had completed her terms as President and stepped into the role of Director of Volunteer Engagement, which she held until the 2020 elections. At that time, she gave up her position of Director of Volunteer Engagement to become the interim Vice President, a position she held until her passing.

Marlisse always believed in having fun at our events and even during our Board meetings her fundamental philosophy was "if something stops being fun then it is not worth doing it anymore." At the first Board meeting of each term she was President, she would always start the meeting by stating that she would do all she could to ensure that every Board Member had a positive experience while serving on the MOCA Board. 

May Marlisse's memory be for a blessing, she will be sorely missed.

Raymond Ockrant on behalf of the Board of Directors of Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America

Here is a beautiful tribute and biography about Marlisse Marcus, Zicharanot L'Baracha (of Blessed Memory), written by her good friend, Pam Zinner. -Peter S.

Bio for Marlisse Marcus – October 2020

Marlisse Marcus, age 62, was born in Bucharest, Romania, and emigrated to the United States as a teenager with her beloved parents, David and Benedetta (both of blessed memory). She completed high school in the Milwaukee area, and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.

Her family grew tired of bitterly cold weather, and in the 1980s, they relocated to sunny Orange County, California. Marlisse worked as a Systems Analyst for many years, and then became a full-time caregiver to her mom in the early 2000s.

Around ten years ago, Marlisse began dating Peter Small, a Historical Impressionist and educator. They became life partners and travel companions, and were well known for bringing friends together. Events they hosted included hikes, picnics, concerts, and many terrific parties.

After Benedetta’s passing, Marlisse sought out a new career opportunity, and became an entrepreneur, hosting delightful chocolate parties and selling products from the Dove chocolate company.

Always community minded, Marlisse volunteered with the Relay for Life, the Jewish Community Center, and other organizations over the years, making many friends along the way. She never hesitated to take on leadership roles. She was an active member of Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America, and even served as its President for several years.

Marlisse was intelligent, outgoing, and always willing to help. She was passionate about many things, including Judaism, democracy, hiking, board games, and being a good friend. She was a courageous cancer survivor, and died after complications from a second battle with cancer only a year after being declared in remission.

Marlisse is survived by her cousin, Luiza Iancu, and family, her aunt Teresa, boyfriend Peter, and many friends of long standing.

She will be greatly missed by many who deeply appreciated her warm hugs, her kind heart, and her often sarcastic sense of humor. Rest in peace, dear Marlisse.


Dear Marlisse,

It seems like just yesterday that we were spending time together at my bridal shower this last spring. I cannot believe that you are gone already, that we will never get to celebrate together. I will miss your big smile, your happy persona, your jokes. Your dedication to family was unparalleled, and I will never forget how every weekend you would drive over an hour each way to spend time with my grandmother. I will miss you forever and for always. I hope you are now at peace. 

Your loving niece,



To. Family of. Marlisse.     My sincere condolences. What a great person.     Frank Berk


I remember Marlisse's big smile, warmth and her ability to help make us feel welcomed and wanted.



I first visited Los Angeles in 2002 while living in New York. During the course of my stay, I came across an ad for a hike to the Hollywood Sign through the Sierra Club. Thinking that sounded like the coolest thing, I made contact with someone in hopes of joining, only to be told it wasn’t recommended for a beginner like me. I was disappointed but determined.

When I decided to move to LA the following spring, the first thing I did was join the Sierra Club so I could improve my hiking skills. Some friends I met on those hikes alerted me to another hiking group – a Jewish one called Mosaic. Wanting to further increase my stamina and meet more people, I eagerly joined them as well. And that, of course, is when I met Marlisse.

Just before Passover of 2004, Marlisse led a hike in Rancho Palos Verdes to the site of a shipwreck along the beach. A group of us met up at a carpool point to drive down to the trailhead. I got a ride and sat in the back seat next to a stranger. We struck up a conversation that continued for most of the hike and the ride back. That stranger was the man I later married, and I owe meeting him to Marlisse.

Aside from continuing to hike with Mosaic, we got together with Marlisse (and then, also Peter) for various other events – birthday parties and game nights at her club house, holiday dinners and parties at our house, restaurant outings, and others. In LA, crossing over from the West Side to the Valley (where we live) is considered ambitious and impressive, let alone making the trek all the way from Orange County. But they did it countless times, whether for Peter’s gigs, to visit her aunt and other family, or to see friends like us.

Marlisse always loved to tell stories and she certainly had plenty of interesting ones to tell – about the old country, a trip she went on, or just an event she’d been to. She was also interested to hear our stories and asked many questions and listened intently. We will miss her passion, enthusiasm, and excitement.

And, with Marlisse’s encouragement and support, I finally did go on that hike to the Hollywood Sign, and have been back many times since.

Marlisse, may your memory be a blessing for all of us. 

Mia Mazer


Dear Marlisse- I am in shock that you are no longer physically here with us, sweet friend. What a warm, loving, vibrant dynamo and leader you were! You were MOSAIC. It’s impossible to even imagine the club- or the world- without you. We will miss you terribly and carry you in our hearts always. Until we meet again- Save me a seat on the log next to you at the campfire. With deepest condolences to you, Peter, and to all of your family. No words.

Elana Gershon


Marlisse Marcus – Memories
Miriam Bat Daveed v' Bayla, (1958-2020)

I’m writing to share my memories of Marlisse Marcus, a woman whose strength, optimism and positive attitude will continue to inspire us all at Mosaic (and I imagine, among a much wider community as well).

I first met Marlisse at the International Event in California in 2009, and was immediately impressed at how Marlisse, expressed such enthusiasm and support for Mosaic. At that time, she had been a member for about a year or so, and exuded interest in wanting to become very strongly involved in Mosaic  - wanting to jump in and actively participate and support Mosaic’s activities and growth.

I had the privilege to serve on the Board when Marlisse was President, and that same strength, optimism and sincere interest in strengthening Mosaic was a constant element of her Presidency.

Marlisse always solicited and proposed new, creative ideas. I was particularly impressed that Marlisse instituted the tradition of starting each Board meeting with a Dvar Torah, asking each Board Member to share a short statement or lesson at the opening of the next month’s meeting This was especially impressive at a time when we were aware of wanting to make sure Mosaic maintained its identity as a Jewish organization, and thus make it stand out from any other outdoor club. It also reflected Marlisse’s strong commitment to her own Jewish identity, and reminded other board members to remember to see our roles as representatives of an organization with Jewish ethics, sensibilities and values.

It was important to Marlisse that Board members enjoyed their activities on the Board and felt that the time they devoted was rewarding and valuable. Toward that end, she solicited new ideas and made it clear she was open and receptive to everyone’s input.

And Marlisse always went out of her way to thank each Board member personally always making, each person feel like an individual, rather than just one person in a large group

Marlisse’s intellect and leadership abilities were always apparent - she knew how to organize and didn't get intimidated by challenges.  Marlisse approached Board issues and projects methodically, always keeping her sights on the goal of crafting a solution or method and moving forward. I was always so impressed how Marlisse “kept everything straight at times when details of projects were varied and numerous.

Consistent with her strong desire that we all enjoy our time, be seen as individuals and feel recognized as individuals, Marlisse closed our meetings with a quick “round robin” for each person to share a thought of their choice– perhaps something good that happened in their life, something going on, something learned - it was a a friendly, non- “business-like” way to close a meeting – reminding us all that running Mosaic wasn’t “all business,” but at its most basic, a gathering of friends - and people with shared interests and a love out the outdoors.

Marlisse packed a lot of inspiration and kindness and warmth into her life that she so generously shared with our Mosaic community. Marlisse’s vitality is deeply missed.

May we all be inspired by Marlisse to infuse energy and enthusiasm into all our activities, to live our values, to make people feel seen and special, and most simply to make people smile.

Miriam Gross


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