Home>In Memoriam>Marilyn Askin, elder law trailblazer, dies at 89

Marilyn Askin. (Photo: Rutgers University Law School).

Marilyn Askin, elder law trailblazer, dies at 89

Former Bergen Record reporter was a public defender, legal services lawyer

By David Wildstein, January 05 2023 1:59 pm

Marilyn Klein Askin, a lawyer and hugely respected advocate for social justices issues and a fierce advocate of the elderly, died on December 29.  She was 89.

Before attending law school, Askin worked as a reporter for The (Bergen) Record.  She began working for the Record in 1956 covering municipalities in northeast Bergen County and worked there for roughly seven years.  She remained there for two years after The Record fired her husband for launching a bid to unionize their staff.

Askin became an officer of the Leonia Democratic Club in 1963.  While her husband attended law school, she worked as an English teacher at Weequahic High School in Newark.

In 1971,  Askin became the New Jersey state director of the American Jewish Congress.   After the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

She served as a public adefabecame head of the senior citizen division of the Essex-Newark Legal Services in 1978, running a team of ten senior citizen paralegals to provide free legal assistance to the elderly poor in the Newark area.

Askin joined a Parsippany law firm, Fein, Such, Kahn and Shepard, in the 1990s.  She specialized in elder law.

In the 2000s, she served as the volunteer chief legislative advocate for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) of New Jersey, where she pushed for health care reforms to help senior citizens.

She was an early member of the National Organization for Women

He late husband, Frank, was a prominent constitutional scholar and activist who served as general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey for 36 ears.  He was the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 11th district, losing to Rep. Dean  Gallo (R-Parsippany) by a 2-1 margin.   Frank Askin died in 2021.

Her family called Askin “a tough, fearless, intelligent person, with an irrepressible spirit and indomitable strength.”

“She was a relentless fighter for the most vulnerable and marginalized among us,” her family said.  “Marilyn always marched to her own drummer, laughing in the face of traditional customs and mores of more conservative bygone days. She was always pushing political, cultural, and social limits, often to find society catching up with her values within a decade or two.

Predeceased by her daughter, Andrea, she is survived by her two sons, Jonathan and Daniel, and her grandchildren.

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