Ron Marian called champion for individuals with mental illness

By William K. Alcorn


Ronald A. Marian was described as the “face ... and the heart” of the Mahoning County Mental Health Board by former board president Laura Lyden.

Marian, known as “Ron,” died Saturday evening. He was 76. A Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Youngstown.

Several of his professional acquaintances and friends expressed their sadness at Marian’s death. They noted his compassion and advocacy for the county’s mentally ill residents.

“My staff and I at the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board are saddened by the news of his passing and wish to send our condolences to Yetta, his wife, and his family during this difficult time,” said Duane J. Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

Piccirilli succeeded Marian, who, when he announced his impending retirement in 2014, noted the mental-health board and the Mahoning County Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services Board would soon merge into the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

“Ron was always supportive of Help Hotline Crisis Center, now named the Help Network of Northeast Ohio. He believed in our mission and was instrumental in providing funding for a crisis/hotline service for our Valley,” Vince M. Brancaccio, its chief executive officer, said.

“He was a champion for individuals with mental illness. He will truly be missed,” he added.

During Marian’s 40 years with the mental-health board, four years as its community-relations director and 36 years as its executive director, the board developed D&E Counseling Center, now known as Alta Care Group Inc.; expanded the Burdman Group into a residential and vocational program for adults with mental-health issues; supported the merger of the Burdman Group with Family Services Agency creating Compass Family and Community Services; initiated the merger of Parkview Counseling and Eastern Mental Health into Turning Point Counseling Services; and in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health, purchased the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County’s North Side Branch and converted it into a drop-in center operated by Help Network of Northeast Ohio.

“As a longtime leader in our community mental-health system, Ron faced many challenges and worked closely with other leaders and legislators, locally and across the state, to tackle them,” Joe Sherokey, chief executive officer of Alta Care Group, said. “No doubt he will be missed.”

Chrysann Mitzel of Canfield, a licensed professional clinical counselor who served with Marian on the Community Advisory Board at Northside Medical Center, was on the mental-health board for eight years, the last as its president.

“He had compassionate empathy for children and families. He was always there ... always very approachable. He was a great guy,” Mitzel said.

“Ron Marian dedicated his life to the mental-health system and looked to the expertise of the agencies to serve the clients. One thing he told me when I was a new director was to always have a plan, to not just react to things, but be proactive. I never forgot that,” said Nancy Voitus, director of the Catholic Charities Regional Agency.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Ron Marian for over 20 years,” said Carolyn Givens, executive director of Neil Kennedy Recovery Centers. “Ron’s expressions spoke volumes, and you knew where you stood with him. While many times his bark was bigger than his bite, he never sugar-coated his feelings.”

Marian leaves his wife, a son, daughter, grandson and a sister. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, Boardman, and from 9 to 9:45 a.m. in the church.

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