AARP New Jersey Remembers Marilyn Askin, A Fearless Advocate and Former AARP NJ State President and Executive Council Member

Posted on 01/05/23

Marilyn Askin, a passionate, longtime AARP New Jersey volunteer, passed away on December 29 at the age of 89. As AARP New Jersey State President, and then member of the Executive Council, Marilyn made a significant impact for older New Jersey residents. After her term as State President, she served on AARP New Jersey’s Executive Council as Chief Legislative Advocate until 2015 when she moved to Florida.  

“She was an inspiration – truly a force of nature who did so much good for so many people,” said Evelyn Liebman, AARP New Jersey Director of Advocacy. “She was the reason I came to work at AARP New Jersey. She was a larger-than-life figure and I loved listening to her stories of the most amazing life she led. Marilyn will very much be missed.”

Marilyn studied at CCNY, Berkeley, Columbia’s Russian Institute, and Rutgers Law School, and never stopped her quest for knowledge late into her 80s, running trivia and current events in her retirement community, and taking up improv in her 80s. She also took her legal chops into her newly adopted Florida retirement community, once again championing rights of the elderly.

Marilyn started out as a journalist before attending Rutgers Law School. Upon graduation, Marilyn worked with the American Jewish Congress, the NJ Public Defender, and as staff counsel to the Public Documents Commission in the wake of the Nixon resignation, but then found her life’s mission – championing the rights of the elderly. 

Marilyn pioneered the field of Elder Law in New Jersey, ultimately coming to be known as the Godmother of NJ Elder Law, first as a Legal Services attorney, then as an elder law practitioner and professor, and then as State President of AARP New Jersey. Over the course of 40 years, Marilyn trained thousands of future elder lawyers, started the Elder Law Section of the NJ State Bar Association, and established Elder Law programming for NJ Institute for Continuing Legal Education.

Marilyn was also a lifelong champion for women's rights, breaking down both personal and societal barriers and paving the way for equal treatment and opportunity, including through establishment of the Essex County Chapter of the National Organization of Women.

“Marilyn was a tough, fearless, intelligent person, with an irrepressible spirit and indomitable strength,” her family said. “She was a relentless fighter for the most vulnerable and marginalized among us.”

Marilyn was a devoted mother to her three children: Andrea, Jonathan and Daniel. She was also a beloved grandmother to Jacob and Sam. Andrea passed away in 2018, but Marilyn continued to love and support her surviving children and grandchildren with all her heart. Marilyn is also survived by her sister, Dr. Phyllis Klein, and her daughter-in-law, Jennifer McCarthy and Jennifer’s daughter, and Jonathan’s step-daughter, Lucy Elliott.

This story is provided by AARP New Jersey. Visit the AARP New Jersey page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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