Marlene Adler Marks, a columnist for the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles who gave a Jewish spin to such topics as politics and personal relationships, and finally to her battle with lung cancer, died last week at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 54.
A New York native, she began writing her column, "A Woman’s Voice," about the death of her husband when she was named managing editor of the Jewish Journal in 1987.
Over the years, her column became a fixture in the Los Angeles Jewish community.
"She was in many ways the voice of the paper," said Rob Eshman, the Journal’s editor-in-chief. "People cared about what she had to say. She challenged people to think about what it means to be Jewish in your civic life, what it means to be Jewish in your political life."
After being diagnosed two years ago with cancer, she wrote regularly about the disease’s effect on her health and spirituality: never missing a deadline despite declining health.
"It was very moving for all of us. We were flooded with letters of concern," Eshman said. "People had really taken her as a part of their lives."
Her last column, in the Aug. 31 issue, was headlined "Oh So Sorry." It began "I’m sorry I haven’t eaten more hot dogs," and went on to discuss the missed opportunities in people’s lives.
"Since I received a lung cancer diagnosis, I’ve been macrobiotic, lived on smoothies, Chinese herbs, Ensure shakes," she wrote. "Lung cancer taught me that what we do today is fun. Tomorrow the bill comes due."
Mrs. Marks was graduated from Queens College and the University of Southern California.
She worked at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Herald Examiner before founding Los Angeles Jewish Life, a monthly magazine, in 1982.
Her 1998 book, "A Woman’s Voice: Reflections on Love, Death, Faith, Food & Family," was a collection of her columns for the Journal. She also served as host of "Conversations with Marlene Marks," an interview series at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Mrs. Marks is survived by a daughter, Samantha; two stepchildren, Spencer and Peggye; her parents, Jack and Anne Adler; and a brother, Alan.

Marlene Adler Marks’ column was a fixture in the L.A. community.