Marilyn Todd Family photo

Marilyn Todd, a beloved kindergarten teacher for Portland and South Portland Schools, died Aug. 13 after a period of declining health. She was 90.

Mrs. Todd had a lifelong passion for education. She graduated from Farmington State Teacher’s College in 1952 and then joined the teaching staff at Redbank Village School in South Portland.

She went on to teach kindergarten at North School in Portland from 1965 to 1979, and taught at Nathan Clifford School and Adams Elementary School before joining the staff at Jack Elementary School in 1981. She retired from teaching in 1995 after more than 40 years in education.

She was remembered Monday as a compassionate, patient, warm and inspiring teacher who brought out the best in her students.

Her daughter Lori Jarizof North Waterboro said teaching was her mother’s life and she gave it her all.

“She loved working with children,” her daughter said. “So many of them needed a good start in life. The backgrounds they came from weren’t always that pleasant. To her, that was real teaching … getting them right from the start and kind of molding them to move on in life and through school.”

Mrs. Todd was named the Maine Teacher of the Year in 1972. She was a member of the Cumberland County Teacher’s Association, Maine Education Association and National Teacher’s Association.

Jarizof said her mother never thought of teaching as a job. It was her life, she said.

“She just loved all the hugs from the little ones,” her daughter said. “She had this warm feeling about her. She would give you a smile like everything will be OK. She had this patience and love. It just came out of her. She was so natural at what she did. She was not only their teacher, but a teacher for life.”

In retirement from 1995 to 2001, Mrs. Todd tutored special needs children in grades K-12 at various Portland schools, including Reiche and Presumpscot schools, and Portland and Deering high schools. A few years ago, Mrs. Todd wrote down some thoughts on her teaching career in a notebook.

“To teach is to touch a life forever,” Mrs. Todd wrote. “What a challenge to accept this responsibility and to play such a special role in a child’s life. I can’t possibly think of any career that takes such dedication and is so rewarding. We need to teach children to love one another and also to love themselves. Before you can teach a child, you must help him to build his self esteem. A child has to know that he is a good person and that he can do well. … Provide experiences that make the child feel secure and let him know that you are there for him. Let the child know they can do anything.”

Mrs. Todd lived in Portland for much of her life. She was married to Albert Todd for 47 years before he died in 2000.

Jarizof, who was adopted by the Todds as a baby, said her mother suffered the losses of three children. Her son Marlin Rae Todd died at 22 in a car accident in Saco. Another son, Daryl Jae Todd, died when he was 3 from an allergic reaction to penicillin. He died in his mother’s arms in route to the hospital.

Jarizof said she admired her mother’s strength, resilience, and love for life.

“Teaching the little ones kept her going,” her daughter said. “She would have a had 100 kids if she were able.  She always told me I was her rock and a gift from God.”

Mrs. Todd lived in Portland for most of her life before moving to Westbrook in 2000. She lived with daughter for a decade, then moved to Millbrook Estates in Westbrook in 2010. She was remembered as a proud mother and grandmother, who enjoyed being with her family. She had a passion for traveling and taking walks with her poodle Samantha.

One of the highlights of her life was traveling to Jerusalem. Her daughter said her faith was such an important part of her life.

“She was a little person with the biggest heart ever,” her daughter said. “She loved life. She loved God. She was a very strong woman in her beliefs.”

Mrs. Todd endured various health challenges through the years. Jarizof said she and her mother talked every day at 11:30 a.m.

“She was my best friend. She was my partner in crime. She was always there for me,” Jarizof said. “I was very blessed. We did everything together. I couldn’t have had a better mom. She gave me the strength in life, even through my ups and downs, to continue on. This world has lost a very special woman.”

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