Marlene Wagman Bram, a strong, valiant woman left us peacefully on 4/1/2022 with a wink and and her very own “Marlene Bram” smile. She lived 85 full and rewarding years. She leaves behind her loving partner, Phyllis Ritner, her two daughters, Caryn Bram Rinaldini and Robin Bram, her brother, Harley Karz-Wagman, sisters-in-law Barbara Karz-Wagman and Lonnie Wagman, her son-in-law, Greg Snodgrass, 2 grandsons, Niccolo and Tommaso, and 3 step-grandchildren, Krystle, Luc and Trevor.
Marlene was born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated from Hamilton High School, received her undergraduate degree from UCLA and her Masters’s in Licensed Clinical Social Work from USC. Important to note she was devoted to UCLA for the university’s academics, and a die-hard devotee of UCLA athletic teams.
She started her professional career as a social worker in the Los Angeles Area and often spoke of the perils she witnessed during these formative years. These experiences provided a foundation to her dedication to people and the human condition. She was a passionate advocate for the underprivileged and under-served. She was a psychotherapist at her core. She truly loved seeing people reach their potential and being a part of their journey of self-discovery. Marlene was an empathetic teacher and healer. She was an enthusiastic student of life, always open to new experiences and cultures. Personally and professionally, Marlene was a passionate supporter of women's rights. She worked to encourage girls and women of all ages to find their voice and become empowered.
An active member of the Democratic Party from an early age, she was involved in the Metropolitan Election Committee of Los Angeles, the first LGBT Political PAC in the country.
She volunteered at the LA LGBT Center in the Mid to late 80s where she worked with staff and management taking important growth steps in the organizational life of the Center and providing mental health support to the AIDS projects in LA. Her interest and support in the political arena never waned.
She was one of the proud founders of Kol Ami Synagogue, a leader in the LGBT community, which was born in her living room in Sherman Oaks.
22 years ago, Marlene and Phyllis moved to Laguna Beach where Marlene served as a therapist for Shanty, an AIDS support center and continued her private practice.
Joy was easily attained through her daily ritual of reading the L.A. Times from start to finish and used her quick wit to comment on the ways of the world, movies and yes reading the obituaries. She loved to know people’s story- what they did in with their lives and how they impacted others and demanded from all of in her life that injustices be fought for and not tolerated on a personal or global level. Throughout her life she travelled the world, as a tourist, and to further expand her worldview and the strife of many. Her later years, she enjoyed seeing the world on cruise ships
It was in a somewhat fitting way that she left on April Fools Day, she loved to laugh and make others not just laugh but think. She was incredibly intelligent and loved to use her intellect to motivate others. She was unique and truly and did things her way.
Above all she loved Phyllis, her children, her grandchildren and her dogs.
Donations can be made to https://takingthereins.org/donate/or Kol Ami Congregation.