Remembering Marianne Tobler: Teacher, environmentalist, mom

R.I.P.: Marianne Tobler, 1964-2018
R.I.P.: Marianne Tobler, 1964-2018
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Marianne Tobler always knew how to comfort her daughter Ally, no matter what.

When Ally felt stressed at the University of Maryland this year, she could count on texted biology jokes from her mom, a science teacher. And cutesy animal videos, too, via Instagram.

And when they lost the man in their lives–Ally’s dad, Mark Tobler, at age 47 to cancer in 2012 — Marianne taught Ally, then a teenager entering Morristown High School, that she did not have to be stoic. It’s okay to grieve someone you love.

Ally Tobler, left, and her late mother, Marianne Tobler. Photo courtesy of Ally Tobler.
Ally Tobler, left, and her late mother, Marianne Tobler. Photo courtesy of Ally Tobler.

These gifts are comforts now as Ally mourns her mother. Marianne Tobler died early Tuesday morning at Morristown Medical Center. She was 54.

Marianne was diagnosed earlier this month with glioblastoma, a brain tumor.

“They were both amazing, down-to-earth people, and I aspire to be like both of them,” Ally, 21, said of her parents this week. 

She will treasure those pick-me-up videos from her mom, of dogs and cats doing crazy things.

“She always made me laugh because she was such a goofy, fun-loving person and I loved her sense of humor,” Ally said. On Ally’s visits home from college, their beloved mutt Bandit would scamper to greet her, and Marianne would exclaim: “The pack is back!”

Born in Rahway and raised in Silver Spring, MD, and Berkeley Heights, Marianne Koppisch graduated from Union Catholic High School and attended Delaware Valley University, transferring to Rutgers. She met Mark on a blind date when she was in graduate school. They were married in 1993.

Mark Tobler and Jim McCready with 400-pound pumpkin at second annual Morristown Pumpkin Illumination, a presentation of the Arts Council of the Morris Area and the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The late Mark Tobler, left, and Jim McCready with 400-pound pumpkin at second annual Morristown Pumpkin Illumination in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Marianne enjoyed gardening at Morristown’s Early Street Community Garden, where her husband grew a 400-pound pumpkin. The Morristown resident was an avid tennis player, loved mountain hikes in Colorado, and worked to save coral reefs in the Bahamas with the nonprofit Earthwatch.

Marianne Tobler at the Infinity Memorial Garden, dedicated to her late husband, Mark. Photo courtesy of Maureen Denman
Marianne Tobler at the Infinity Memorial Garden, dedicated to her late husband, Mark, in 2013. Photo courtesy of Maureen Denman

After this school year, Marianne planned to retire from Morris Hills High School and start a yoga business. She was pursuing certification as a yoga instructor, and practiced on co-workers, friends and family, Ally said.

The migraines started around late September. Marianne’s short-term memory began to falter.

After visiting one of her brothers on Veterans Day, she went to an urgent care facility, which sent her to the hospital for scans that discovered the tumor, Ally said.

A biopsy yielded the diagnosis a few days later.

Ally, who graduated from Morristown High in 2016, remembers the strength her mom gave her after her father’s passing.

“She taught me not to be afraid to show my emotions and talk about my feelings when I need to process my dad’s death,” said the daughter, a junior at Maryland studying journalism and marketing.

Marianne Tobler, left, kayaking with her daughter Ally. Photo courtesy of Ally Tobler.
Marianne Tobler, left, kayaking with her daughter Ally. Photo courtesy of Ally Tobler.

“I was really stoic at that time in my life because I didn’t want to show emotion and make others uncomfortable. But since this is extremely difficult for me, I know I have to not be afraid to show my emotions,” Ally said.

“She also really taught me to always look at the positive memories that I shared with my father, and to carry on his legacy through all of the things he loved — gardening, baking, geocaching. So I think going forward, I’m just going to live my life like they have lived theirs, in honor of them.”

A wake for Marianne Tobler is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, from 1 pm to 5 pm at the Doyle Funeral Home, 106 Maple Ave., Morristown. Her funeral Mass is at 10 am on Monday, Dec. 3, at Assumption Church, 91 Maple Ave.  In lieu of flowers, contributions in Marianne’s memory may be made to the Earthwatch Institute.

In addition to Ally (Alexandra), Marianne is survived by her mother, Annemarie Koppisch of Princeton; brothers John (Maureen Sullivan) of Hoboken, Mark (Leslie) of Basking Ridge, Peter (Linda) of Basking Ridge, Paul of Gainesville VA, Luke (Laura) of Mount Laurel and David (Bridget Lessner) of Philadelphia; many nieces and nephews and the Tobler family of Colorado. Marianne was pre-deceased by her husband, Mark Tobler, and her father, Dr. Arthur Koppisch.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Morristown Green extends its deepest sympathy to Ally Tobler, who has helped inform our community as a correspondent here. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Ally.

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