Image by Lopez Robin

Marilynn Hilton-Gesler

Celebrating the Life of 

February 11th 1941 - August 30th 2020

Celebrating the Life of

Marilynn Hilton-Gesler

from Saturday, October 10, 2020

Image by Ben Neale



Marilynn Hilton-Gesler

Surrounded by her loving family, Marilynn Hilton-Gesler passed away peacefully on August 30, 2020, in Granada Hills, CA. Born on February 11, 1941 in Washington D.C. and adopted from birth by Mr. and Mrs. Verne E. Arens, mom grew up, along with her brother, Verne E. Arens (Julie), in Philadelphia, eventually calling Southern California home. 

Mom lived an interesting and varied life.  She graduated with a BA in music from Beaver College in Philadelphia and taught piano for many years, including instructing blind students. Her first marriage to Richard C. Hilton Jr. was blessed with four children; Brad (Lourdes), Debbie, Sharon (Sean), Laura (Conrad), who in turn blessed her with 11 grandchildren to love; Adam, Sarah, Cynthia, Dylan, Tyler, Samantha, Joshua, Naomi, Sophia, Jason and little Michelle.


Mom was active in many activities including PTA president, leader of the youth group at Knollwood Methodist Church, sewing leader in the local 4-H club, neighborhood spider killer and Halloween Witch! On Halloween, mom would dress as a witch, replete with moles, crazy hair and crooked nose and cause fright to those scared of her and delight to those not frightened as she challenged the Trick-or Treaters to discover whether the bag she held contained a trick or a treat. The trick bag contained mushy spaghetti noodles. She never failed to entertain the children. 


As if raising 4 children and volunteer work wasn’t enough of a career, mom attended West Valley Occupational Center to learn how to wallpaper and turned hanging wallpaper into a new business for herself eventually going on to earn a Painter/Decorator Contractors License. Mom was extremely crafty, artistic and resourceful. She was an expert scrapbooker and quilter. We are fortunate to have many beautiful scrapbook albums and lovingly made quilts to cherish.  Mom also became a Mary Kay consultant, wandering through office buildings and hospitals looking for clients, she kept detailed notes on each client, always remembering to ask them about their lives and families.


The best was yet to come as three big life events awaited her. She met and married Ralph Gesler, who survives her, she found a place of comfort and strength in Shepherd of the Hills Church and she found her birth mother, Elaine Wampler. Along with the discovery of her birth mother she found additional family to love; cousins Nancy Hughes and Don Kline.


The discovery of her birth mother, who had moved to Hungary from the US, led mom to take many trips to Europe over the remaining 10 years of Elaine’s life. Finding her mother was truly a blessing from heaven as they took to each other and loved each other immediately. That love matched the love that she felt for Shepard of the Hills Church. Looking to renew her faith and spirituality, she found Shepard in 1996. She became a church usher almost immediately and worked behind the scenes, for many years, on The Passion Play. Her greatest joy was starting a Life Group with fellow church member, Sandy Billick. The Life Group met weekly for 20 years, discussing and sharing biblical passages and lovingly supporting each other through life’s trials and tribulations.


Mom was truly blessed by her unwavering faith in the Lord and the support of loving family and friends. Mom now rests comfortably in the house of the Lord.

Psalm 23:6

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”



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In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Marilynn's honor to her beloved Shepherd of the Hills Church, specifically the Porter Ranch campus.


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Image by Joanna Kosinska

Photo Gallery

The gallery below is a tribute to Marilynn Hilton-Gesler

from her family and friends.

Image by Priscilla Du Preez

Marilynn's Favorite Passages

John 14:1–4

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Epesians 6:10-17

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


John 1:1-14

The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


John 11:28-29


28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     . He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Isaiah 40:11


11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.


Romans 8:18

Present Suffering and Future Glory

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.


Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law


Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.[a]

5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    He is the King of glory!