Marilyn "Toddy" Richman, founding director of the Institute for Therapy through the Arts, died April 24. She was 94.
A graduate of Wellesley College, she was a stage and TV actress who quickly recognized the therapeutic value of drama and other creative arts to express and process emotions, and turned her passion into a pioneering career.
In 1975, Richman was approached by the director of what is now the Music Institute of Chicago and asked to start a music therapy program. The program-which launched with 27 children from the Irene Josselyn Clinic, Cove School, and the Music Institute-became the Institute for Therapy through the Arts (ITA). By the 1980s, ITA offered four creative arts therapy modalities: Music, Art, Drama, and Dance/Movement Therapy. Richman provided drama therapy to people of all ages and continued her association with ITA throughout her life, working as a clinical consultant to ITA staff and ultimately serving as chairman emeritus of its board.
With her Masters of Education from the National College of Education and having completed the Teacher Education Program at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, Richman also was one of the founders of the National Association of Drama Therapy and taught drama therapy courses at Columbia College and National-Louis University.
It was a special joy for her to teach creative dramatics to children at Congregation Makom Solel Lakeside in Highland Park, where she was a member and attended weekly Torah study religiously.
Passionate about the importance of Jewish education, Richman was a longtime member of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago, which honored her in 2009 with their Rambam Award for her service to the community.
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 of six. Loved by step-grandchildren Isaac (Talia) Dayan, Max (Mariya) Dayan, and Stanley (Sara) Dayan, and their 10 children. Beloved aunt and cousin to many. JUF Golden Giver. Memorials to the Institute for Therapy through the Arts, Makom Solel Lakeside, or the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago. Arrangements were made by Chicago Jewish Funerals-Skokie Chapel.