Marlene's Story

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Marlene Lehtonen Murphy, 68, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at her home.

She was born July 14, 1949 in Ashtabula, the daughter of Eugene and Dorothy (Hook) Lehtonen and had lived in Mentor before returning to Ashtabula after her retirement and to care for her mother.

A 1967 graduate of Harbor High School, Marlene earned her B.A. in Psychology, 1971 (cum laude) and Masters in Education, 1976, both from Kent State University. She completed 45 hours of graduate level work beyond her Master's Degree, completed at the University of London, Wright State University, and Notre Dame and also completed Microcomputer Certification from Lakeland Community College in 1993. She was recognized in the Psi Chi, Epsilon Nu Gamma, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

A Certified Network Administrator in various computer programs, she served as Work/Study Coordinator for Field Local Schools, Social Worker for the Work Incentive program, Special Education Instructor for Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School and Painesville City Schools, Information Systems Instructor at Lakeland Community College, Cuyahoga Community College, and Kent State University, and Information Systems Manager at Aero Tech Tool & Mold, Inc. She earned tenure at Painesville City Schools and holds a lifetime teaching certificate in Special Education. She wrote volumes of measurable behavioral objectives for a special education curriculum along with other special education teachers in the state as well as writing a first-aid curriculum for Harvey High School, Painesville. For the past 28 years, children with special needs have been placed in Marlene's teaching care.

Marlene always had a passion for community and served as a volunteer at Forbes House (a home for battered women), the Humane Society of the United States, Northern Ohio Animal Welfare League, the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League, Save our Strays Cat Rescue, Harbor Cat Rescue, Lake Erie Dog Park Association, and D's Purrs and Pups.

A deep lover of animals, her efforts helped to build the Smith Field Dog Park in Ashtabula, the only such park in the county. She also actively championed causes that would make human life less painful during terminal illnesses. To relax, she loved to stay active running, bicycling, playing tennis, and reading.

Inducted into the Harbor/Ashtabula/Lakeside High Alumni Hall of Fame in the class of 2017. Marlene will always be remembered for her kindness toward others and the difference she made in the lives of her human and animal friends during her life.

Her survivors include her love and companion, Harlan Rinto; her cousins, Erkki Poikonen and his daughters, Mina, Satu, and Anu, all in Finland, Paulina Myers, Katriina Radman, Robert and Charles Lehtonen, Candy Myllymaki, Patty Hazeltine, Michael Lehtonen, Eva Ann Parks, Kandy Grace, Char Lehto, William Kahelin, Tom Heath, and Michael Kollmorgan; and many special friends with whom she loved to spend time.

She was preceded in death by her parents and cousins, Dennis Peterson and Linda Prieto.

In staying consistent with her lifelong commitment to helping others, Marlene chose to donate her body to Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

A Celebration of Life Gathering will be held at a later date.

Contributions may be made to Harbor Cat Rescue Ashtabula, Lake Erie Dog Park Assoc., or the Ashtabula Co. Animal Protective League.

Published on November 3, 2017
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