Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Barbara L. Marley, 1947-2012: Fostoria city judge formerly was mayor

FOSTORIA — Fostoria Municipal Judge Barbara L. Marley, who formerly was mayor, council president, and at-large councilman and for 39 years was a partner in her family’s law practice before her election to the bench in November, died Saturday in Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria.

Her husband, Charles R. Hall, Jr., said she died of colon cancer, which was diagnosed March 23. She was 64.

Carol Reffner, Fostoria city prosecutor, said she considered Ms. Marley more a friend than adversary. The two often faced each other in court, where Ms. Marley was a defense attorney with the long-established family law office of Marley & Marley.

Last fall, Ms. Marley defeated Ms. Reffner and a third candidate, Assistant City Prosecutor Barbara Dibble, with 45 percent of the vote.

“I can say that she and I were never adversaries in the usual sense,” said Ms. Reffner, who has been prosecutor for 25 years. “She was always very professional.”

In court, both women “always wanted to find the truth” and knew that most issues could be worked out to the satisfaction of the court and the defendant without going to trial, said Ms. Reffner, who said she’s known Ms. Marley for 30 years.

Ms. Marley was born June 6, 1947, in Fostoria to Barbara and Francis Marley, Sr.

She was a 1965 graduate of St. Wendelin High School there and a 1969 graduate of St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame.

She received her law degree from the University of Toledo in 1972.

Ms. Marley was president of Fostoria City Council from 1976 to 1990 and was the city’s first female mayor from 1990, when she was appointed, until 1995, after winning a four-year term.

She served four terms as a councilman at large.

John Davoli, who served three terms as mayor and two as councilman, faced Ms. Marley in elections for both posts, defeating her each time.

“I think those were the only two defeats she ever had,” said Mr. Davoli, now executive director of the North Central Ohio Regional Council of Government in Tiffin.

Despite their differences in political views — he’s a conservative independent and she a liberal Democrat — Mr. Davoli said she often would come to his defense during council meetings when members criticized his actions.

“Then she’d say, ‘I can’t believe I’m defending Davoli,’?” he said.

Ms. Marley would write poems or rhymes to match a particular situation, Mr. Davoli said, adding that “her poetry is well known in Fostoria, but she never declared herself as Shakespeare, by any means.”

Her husband, Mr. Hall, who described himself as “a humble lawyer in Tiffin,” met his wife to be in 2006.

Mr. Hall said neither had marriage on their minds, but their mutual attraction turned into matrimony July 3, 2010.

Mr. Hall, a widower, said Ms. Marley had never married before meeting him.

“She was never a prosecutor, which was a big plus in my eyes,” Mr. Hall joked.

Her decision to run for municipal judge was an extension of her long years in public service, Mr. Hall said.

“She was on just about every community board you could think of,” he said.

Some of her board appointments included Terra Technical College — now known as Terra State Community College — in Fremont, Seneca County Hospice, and American Red Cross, where she was chapter chairman.

She also was a board member of the Fostoria Civil Service Committee and was on the Seneca County Regional Planning Commission.

And she was on the St. Wendelin Parish Council, Seneca County Commission on Aging, and the Seneca County Democratic Central Committee.

She was drawn to public service and into becoming a defense attorney because of the example set by her father, who founded the law firm in 1934, Mr. Hall said.

Her father, who died in 1985, also served in numerous elected and appointed positions. Francis M. Marley, Jr., her brother, is the law firm’s only practitioner, he said.

Surviving are her husband, Charles Hall, Jr., stepdaughter Rachelle Wilczynski, brother, Francis M. Marley, Jr., and sister, Susan Dunn.

Visitation is to be Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Hoening Funeral Home, Fostoria. The funeral is to be Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in St. Wendelin Catholic Church, Fostoria, where a Rosary is to be recited at 10 a.m.

Memorials are suggested to the church and school or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: or 419-724-6050.

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