Marianne Kobylenski loved character.
Not just the human element of character — the things that make people beautiful, the things that make people flawed — but the intangible components that define things deeper than mere personality. She found character in people, yes, but she also found character in objects like houses, especially the type that others left abandoned or neglected for years on end.
There was always something she would find in their fabric with which she connected. She would fix them up. She would make them over. She would accentuate their character.
So said her son, Peter Davy, when he reflected upon his mother’s life, which ended Dec. 29 at the age of 61. Among the health issues Kobylenski battled at the time of her death was a lung infection that turned out to be brief. Her somewhat sudden passing came as a surprise to almost everybody who knew her.
“It was a shock,” said Rick Winer, a retired corporal with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office who worked alongside Kobylenski for more than a decade. “I hadn’t spoken to her in about a year, but it was a big blow in the gut. Anybody you love that you find these things out about, it’s just a gut hit and it drops you to your knees.”
Marianne Kobylenski was born on May 11, 1958, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Growing up, she never dreamed of a career in law enforcement, but after coming across a brochure for a seasonal cadet program in Ocean City, she decided to give patrolling a try.
The lure wasn’t the law any more than it was the adventure. Plus, she really liked the idea of being by the beach and if all went well, she thought she could eventually be grandfathered in as a full-time officer. What she didn’t expect was to fall in love with it as much as she did.
Such was the case, however, when she wound up at the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, where she worked for 21 years and retired as the first active female patrol sergeant with the agency. It was while working for the county sheriff that Winer met her.
“She was a good gal,” Winer reflected in a recent interview. “She was fun to work with, fun to be around. If I had to pick somebody I had to work with, it’d be her. She was a realist and she knew that bad things were out there, but she would try to use her compassion to make things better.”
Bob Rauch, a retired sergeant with the office, remembered her as a role model and someone who cared.
“I was so sad when I heard the news,” Rauch said. “She’ll be remembered to some of us as a second mother. You could go to her with your problems and she would pick you up, give you good advice.”
While she might have stood in as a work mother for certain colleagues, her role as mother to Davy was something he continues to miss in the wake of her death. In fact, upon hearing how some of her previous co-workers viewed her, he chuckled before playfully setting the record straight.
“Mom was one of those types,” he said. “As long as you did what she told you to do, you were fine. But if you ever crossed that line, hell hath no fury if you pissed off Marianne. She may have been kidding with them, but with us, it was serious. She kind of had an iron fist and when you screwed up, you knew it.”
After her time at the county sheriff’s office, Kobylenski tried her hand in the real estate world for about four years before she tired of having to be a salesperson, despite her love for houses and decorating them. From there, the Emmitsburg resident moved on to the post office, where she delivered packages part time on weekends.
It wouldn’t be long before she felt the hazards of the job (“If there was ice, she found it,” Davy explained) and arthritis kicked in, forcing her to leave the position. Her final place of employment was the Urbana Regional Library, where she worked as a circulation clerk on weekends. She just wanted to keep busy, her son said, and finding a part-time job was her preferred way to do just that.
Still, as Davy reflected on the memories he made with his mom — how she would lead the charge to make sure the family met at the Outer Banks every year; the time a rabbit got itself stuck in a fence; her love for dogs; the family pool collapsing in their backyard — one thing remained consistent: character. She adored adventures, she was passionate about pets, but no matter the examples, her life always pointed back to her love for character.
“I’m going to miss how attentive she was for her family,” Davy said after a short pause. “I’m really going to miss that part of Mom. No matter what, she always tried to keep the family together.”
Said Ted Nee, a retired captain for the sheriff’s office: “A lot of female deputies looked up to her. She was inspirational and inspiring. I can’t believe she’s gone.”