(877) 410-2424

24/7 Se habla español

In loving memory of
Marilyn Mooney
  • July 05, 1942
  • -
  • March 27, 2022

  • Obituary
  • Sign Tribute Wall
  • Send an E-Card
  • Light a Candle
  • Send Flowers
  • Photos


A celebration of life will be held for Marilyn on July 2, 2022. It will begin at 3:00 PM at the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda. This will allow family and friends from around the country to plan on attending – along with Marilyn’s local friends, neighbors, and members of the community. Details to follow.


Marilyn was born at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, NY on July 5, 1942. She was the daughter of Raymond Lionel Cowan (born in Dallas, TX) and Katherine Marie Cowan (Maiden: Doepp- born in Queens, NY).  Both parents predeceased her.  She passed away at home with family on Sunday morning , March 27 at approximately 10:20 AM.  Her final hours were peaceful and painless in the beautiful home she designed and built in the community of Punta Gorda she so loved.

Marilyn’s life included many facets, roles, husbands, and the dear families that came with those husbands.  Born into this world as Marilyn Patricia Cowan she was known by many names including Marilyn DeCarolis, Marilyn Hibner, Marilyn McLaren, Marilyn Smith, Marilyn Smith-Mooney, Marilyn Mooney, Mom, Grandma, Tiger (by Keith), Mari Pat (by Jack), Sistah (by her brother Ray), Pilot, Co-Pilot, “The Wild One” (in her rebellious youth), Mayor Smith-Mooney, an Ordained Minister, and we are sure there are other names that may not be fit for print given her years in the corporate world and local politics.


Marilyn’s family

This may be a complex topic to get your arms around.  Marilyn married five times during her life and lovingly accepted her husband’s children from previous marriages into the “family”.


Marilyn first married Paul William DeCarolis of the US Coast Guard on August 5, 1962.  Marilyn was a loving mother to son Paul William DeCarolis (now Paul William Hibner). Paul was the only child born to Marilyn.  Marilyn had two grandchildren from Paul and Diana Hibner – Grandson Brandon Paul Hibner and Granddaughter Nicole Katherine Hibner.  Paul and his fiancé’ Linda F Smith have resided with and cared for Marilyn as new residents of Punta Gorda, FL since the summer of 2020 – through Covid, her battles with cancer, and numerous other medical conditions.  Linda has two daughters Jenna and Lindsey that reside in NC.


Marilyn married Keith Irwin Hibner an Architect on August 30, 1966.  Her marriage to Keith brought his children from a former marriage Amanda (nickname Mandy) Jean Hibner (Huntington, NY) and Keith (nickname Rusty) E. Hibner into the “family”.  In their youth Amanda and Keith regularly stayed with Marilyn, Keith, and Paul at their home in Islandia, NY on Long Island.  Keith Hibner lives in Houston, TX and is married to Pamela French.  Amanda Hibner lives in Huntington Station, NY, has a son Matthew Hibner, and is married to Frank Magnotta.  Keith had a daughter Carolyn Tipping (Hoylake, Wirral, United Kingdom) that is a dear friend to Marilyn.


Marilyn married Richard (Dick) E. McLaren an Airplane Pilot, Flight Instructor, and Mechanic on July 17, 1976. Her marriage to Dick brought his children from a former marriage Barbara Livingston, Donna McLaren (Washington DC area) , and Kelly McLaren into the “family”.  Barbara is married to Alan Livingston. They live in Lindenhurst, NY and have a son Carter.  Kelly McLaren is married to Joe Monette.  They live in Rocky Point, NY and have a daughter Lauren Monette.


Marilyn married Adrian Smith a retired TWA Captain on December 7, 1991. Adrian owned a Cessna 195, “Red Rover”, which served as the airborne chapel for their marriage. Her marriage to Adrian brought his children from a former marriage Zachary (Boca Raton, FL) and Jason Smith (deceased – formerly of AZ) into the “family”.


Marilyn married John Joseph Mooney on September 1, 2002.  He was kindly referred to as Jack or the “First Man of Punta Gorda” while Marilyn served as Punta Gorda’s first female Mayor.  They married in Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda at the gazebo with their dog Shamus in attendance as a “Service Dog”. Her marriage to Jack brought his children from a former marriage Maureen Pendl, John Mooney (NY and DC areas and a fabulous chef), and Jim into the “family”.  Maureen is married to Rob Pendl and live in Naples, FL.  They have a son Kevin and a daughter Amanda.  Kevin is married to Kelly, and they have a daughter Reese. Jim is married to Kate and lives in Chicago, IL. They have a daughter Elizabeth.


Marilyn’s Education

Marilyn grew up in Merrick, NY and attended W. C. Mepham High School in Bellmore, NY from 1957-60. She was in an Advanced Curriculum and earned a Regents Diploma in June 1960.


Early in Marilyn’s career (1961 – 1971) she participated in Apprenticeship Training in architecture & interior design.


Marilyn entered the working world after High School and returned to the academic world in 1987.  She attended St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, NY.  She studied in the School of Business Administration from 1987-1989. She received a Certificate in Leadership & Human Resources Development maintaining a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA.


Marilyn’s desire to learn continued through her entire life. She took classes at the American Management Assoc., NY – numerous management courses; Kepner-Tregoe Institute, NJ – “Rational Process of Management” extended course + Trainer certification for “situational process” models; Goldratt Institute, CT – “Theory of Constraints (TOC) Management” (10-day intensive course at University of Georgia + “JONAH” certification (Socratic-method facilitator) for management methodologies, problem solving and conflict resolution; Florida League of Cities/Florida Institute of Government – 1997 Institute for Elected Municipal Officials & 1998 Advanced Institute for Elected Municipal Officials; Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce – Class of 1998 Leadership Charlotte Program; Leadership Florida Institute – Class IV, 1999 Local Government Leadership Program.


While on Long Island, Marilyn’s passion for aviation earned her numerous certifications and ratings including “Gold Seal” Flight Instructor & Instrument Flight Instructor; Certified Advanced Ground Instructor & Instrument Ground Instructor; Certified Commercial Pilot with Single & Multi-Engine Airplane and Instrument ratings.


She participated in the Florida League of Cities Annual Conference Workshops (1997, 1999, 2001, 2002), Florida Neighborhoods Conference Workshops (2000), and Public Risk Management Conference Workshops (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)


Marilyn’s Career

Marilyn’s career was multi-faceted.  Her career spanned areas including architecture, interior design, the packaging industry, managerial training and development, aviation training and safety, local government, and non-profit organizations.

Marilyn’s resume was extensive, broad, and impressive and contained the following.


  • 1960-1961 – Frederic P. Wiedersum Associates, NY: (architects & engineers) – Executive Secretary to Chief of Design


  • 1961-1973 – Keith I. Hibner, Architect, NY: (architects & engineers) – Office Manager + ten years’ apprenticeship in architecture & interior design


  • 1968-1975 – Hibner Atelier, Ltd., NY: (interior design & general construction company) – Owner; provided interior design services & managed all sub-contractor trades for clients’ commercial & municipal building projects


  • 1974-1977 – Islip Aviation, Ltd., NY: co-owner & chief pilot of pilot training and aircraft rental business; as licensed commercial pilot and flight & ground school instructor, instructed on part-time basis from ’74-’76 and on full-time basis from ’76-‘77(business closed due to co-owner moving out of the area)


  • 1975-1976 – Ward Associates/Planning Associates, NY: (architects, engineers & planners) – Office Manager + Technical Writer for administrative policy & procedure manuals for municipalities


  • 1977-1990 – Arkay Packaging Corporation, NY: (#1 cosmetics packaging company in U.S.)
    • Hired as Executive Assistant to the President – reported directly to the President – included a variety of special corporate project assignments, among which were compilation & publication of employee newsletter; negotiating & supervising over 25 sub-contracts for a 60,000 sq. ft. addition to the company’s 100,000 sq. ft. headquarters and manufacturing plant, tracking & status reporting on corporate projects & programs
    • Promoted to Administration & Human Resources Manager – reported directly to President; established & staffed new department, authored first comprehensive Employee Handbook, formalized corporate policies & procedures, handled all corporate legal & insurance, instituted wage & salary administration/performance evaluation/training programs
    • Promoted to Director of Corporate Development – reported directly to President; introduced top management to TOC management process as a complement to Total Quality Management (TQM) program and initiated training into new corporate culture; negotiated with architects & contractors for construction of a second plant in Roanoke, VA
    • Promoted to Director of Materials Management – reported directly to President; implemented TOC management process; directed the functions of planning & estimating, purchasing, production control, customer service, finished goods inventory control (resigned to form own management consulting firm)


  • 1990-1992 – Concepts for Constructive Change, NY: Marilyn was a self-employed management consultant and facilitator for Rational Process of Management & TOC Management, utilizing Socratic method, situational analysis, problem solving & conflict resolution (terminated consulting firm’s business to relocate to Punta Gorda, FL)


Marilyn moved to Punta Gorda, FL in 1993 from Smithtown, Long Island, N.Y. The first half of her 30-year private-sector career focused primarily on architecture and interior design, as well as ownership and management of a commercial construction company, while the latter half of her career focused on executive management team positions in human resources, corporate development, and materials management for the then #1 cosmetics packaging company in the United States.


During the period of time between 1993 and 1996, Marilyn and Adrian rented a home in Punta Gorda and had a home on Saranac Lake, NY.  They were snowbirds the first few years between FL and NY.  They traveled back and forth in their Cessna 195, “Red Rover”.  They also spent time visiting airshows and visiting with friends across the country.  When they elected to settle down in Punta Gorda, they purchased a beautiful canal lot and Marilyn put her architectural and interior design talents back to work.  She designed and oversaw the construction of her home at 654 Andros CT.  That home hosted many festive times, holiday dinners, pool parties, and also provided a tranquil retreat.  It was the home she remained in until her final days, as she wished.


  • 1996 – 2008 – Punta Gorda, FL City Council Member – District #2 seat from November 1996 through October 2008 and served two terms as mayor (2001—2003). Marilyn was the city’s first female mayor since the city’s founding in 1887. Prior to that, she served two terms as vice mayor (and served part of one term as acting mayor). She represented & served the best interests of the people of Punta Gorda as the senior member of a five-member city council; responsible for setting policy and legislating; fulfill council appointments to various local, county, and regional governmental councils, boards & committees.


While winding down her career in local politics, Marilyn was recruited to join the Military Heritage Museum board and fill the vacant seat of president in 2007, a position she held for more than five years. She then opted to serve as a board member for several years, feeling the organization needed “new blood, energy, and ideas” from new leadership. Later, in 2016, she was once again recruited to serve as president and continued to do so up until 2020, at which point she chose to retire as President, once again enabling a new wave of leadership for the organization. Marilyn took on a Board of Directors role upon stepping down and in 2021 was honored to become a Board Member Emeritus.


From 2008-2016, Marilyn also served as the executive director and vice chair of the Tetrault Family Foundation, the private nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation providing the $30 million funding and development of the 27-acre Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens (PRB&SG) as a gift to the people of Charlotte County. In 2016, she was asked to serve as executive administrator of the PRB&SG, Inc. (the nonprofit tasked with managing, operating, and maintaining the Gardens), a position from which she retired in 2018 and became one of the organization’s board members. She served on that organization’s board of directors as its Treasurer until her death.


In 2011, Marilyn pursued training for and obtained her Florida Supreme Court certification as a county mediator. She served as a volunteer mediator for the 20th Judicial Circuit, as well as for the court’s Citizen Dispute Resolution Program, a program in which local residents and businesses voluntarily agree to have their dispute mediated in lieu of a judge deciding the outcome.


Honors and Recognitions


Most recently, Marilyn was presented with the first “Distinguished Civilian Award” by the Military Heritage Museum on September 30, 2021.  It was presented in appreciation of her unwavering support and dedication to the Museum.  Her transformative leadership has left an enduring legacy to all who visit the Museum. During a dinner to honor her that evening, she was also given the honor of being named a Board Member Emeritus.


Marilyn was recognized by the Punta Gorda Rotary in November 2017 as its “Service Above Self” honoree for all she has done for many nonprofits as well as individuals needing an advocate, a helping hand, and caring heart. Also, most recently in 2019, Marilyn was inducted as an “Honoree into the Punta Gorda History Center’s Hall of Honor” for her well-served tenure of 12 years on the Punta Gorda City Council, during which time she was a consistent and never-failing strong supporter of the city’s history and in preserving, protecting and promoting the city’s historic buildings and districts.  She was also recognized in the past as one of Punta Gorda’s “Steel Magnolias” and as one of “the county’s most influential, involved, charitable, powerful and important people” by the Charlotte Sun.


Other Notable Accomplishments and Honors


  • Girl Scout Medals & Leadership: recipient of highest Protestant Girl Scout award, “God  & Country” Medal, and highest Lutheran Girl Scout award, “Katherine  Von Bora” Medal; served as a Junior & Senior Girl Scout Troop Leader in NY (was a member of Girl Scouts for 20 years)
  • “To Tell the Truth” TV Show Guest: appeared as ”real person” who developed a 7-week course for airline passengers to overcome their fear of flying (none of show’s panelists guessed correctly); had also appeared on the show several years earlier as one of two “liars” for the “real person” – “Grace the Ace,” a female aerobatic stunt pilot (all of show’s panelists incorrectly guessed it was Marilyn)
  • Recipient of Amelia Earhart Bronze Medal: (1975) for outstanding & dedicated leadership in The Ninety-Nines, Inc. (International Organization of Licensed Women Pilots) and for contributions to general aviation, women in general aviation, and safety programs for general aviation
  • “General Aviation Week” in NY State:  (1975) founder of recurring exhibition held at Roosevelt Field Shopping Center on Long Island which formerly was site from which Lindburgh’s flight departed
  • “American Adventure” TV Series:  appeared in 1-hour show,  “Weekend Pilot,” which featured Marilyn flying her own Piper Cherokee 180 aircraft and included interview of Marilyn while flying over Long Island
  • WHO’S WHO “Wall of Fame” Honoree: (1989) by Mepham High School Alumni Association for career accomplishments in Human Resources & Aviation
  • First woman Acting Mayor in Punta Gorda City’s history: 7/98-12/98
  • First woman Mayor in City’s 114-year Punta Gorda City’s history: (two one-year terms) 2001 & 2002
  • Woman Council Member with greatest length of continuous service in Punta Gorda City’s history: in her 9th year of service to the community in that capacity.
  • One of the top 100 in Charlotte County: selected for inclusion in CHARLOTTE SUN newspaper’s First Annual (2003) “SUN 100” List and Second Annual (2004) “SUN 100” List  of “The County’s most influential, involved, charitable, powerful and important people”
  • Biography appears in various editions between 1981 & 2004: Marquis’ WHO’S WHO IN THE WORLD, … IN AMERICA, … OF AMERICAN WOMEN, … IN THE EAST, … IN THE SOUTH & SOUTHWEST, and … IN FINANCE AND INDUSTRY
  • Aviation biography appears in two publications: HISTORY OF THE NINETY-NINES, INC.* (1979) and THE NINETY-NINES* -– YESTERDAY , TODAY & TOMORROW (1996)

(*Int’l Organization of Licensed Women Pilots founded by Amelia Earhart)


Marilyn’s Passions


Marilyn had a passion for life, people, good times, singing, dancing, aviation, travel, her family (all of them), her community, and anyone in need.


In Lieu of Flowers


Marilyn prefers donations in her name to honorable charities of your liking.  Your time and service or donations will be appreciated.  Two organizations that she most recently devoted significantly to included:


Military Heritage Museum

900 West Marion Avenue

Punta Gorda, FL 33950




Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens

5827 Riverside Dr

Punta Gorda, FL 33982



Send flowers to the family to show you care. Order Now

Tribute Wall

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Barbara Priborsky says:
    30 Apr 2022
    Marilyn was a force of nature! With her as a friend I felt there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish! She will be missed and remembered very fondly!

  2. Barbara Priborsky lit a candle:
    30 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 30, 2022 at 4:49:21 PM

  3. Charles Wallace says:
    29 Apr 2022
    Incredible Lady!

  4. Howard R Grace lit a candle:
    28 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 28, 2022 at 4:03:46 PM

  5. Ramona Fulton-Enger lit a candle:
    28 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 28, 2022 at 4:43:01 PM

  6. Jan lit a candle:
    28 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 28, 2022 at 4:16:56 PM

  7. Kathryn (Kay) Mooney says:
    28 Apr 2022
    Back when Marilyn's engagement to John (Jack) Mooney was announced, I started receiving calls and emails wondering about Jack's involvement with Marilyn. You see, my husband's name was John (Jack) Mooney. My quick reply was that we were Mormons and he could have more than one wife. From that time on, Marilyn and I became friends. It was a pleasure and joy to be part of the "Mooney" family. God bless, rest in peace. What a marvelous life you led.

  8. Carol lit a candle:
    11 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 11, 2022 at 4:04:58 PM

Send an E-Card

Please select an e-card

Required fields are marked *

Note: The code below resets with every submit of the form