When is a plaque more than a plaque? When it’s a love letter.
Love was the watchword as dozens of Hunter friends gathered November 1 to unveil the official signage of the Marie Colwell Terrace.
The gorgeous outdoor space on the eighth floor of Hunter East off the Leon and Toby Cooperman Library memorializes Marie Colwell ’75, an actress, therapist, and public-health advocate who died in 2022. The terrace was the gift of Colwell’s husband of 50 years, investment banker, financial analyst, and author of a series of books on wealth management, Ron Spurga.
“When Ron was looking for a way to honor his wife Marie, he could not have found a more perfect place — a place where students will gather and recharge — and who knows … maybe fall in love!” said Hunter President Ann Kirschner as she removed the curtain cloaking the plaque.
Colwell grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, working hard, even as a youngster, to help support her family — so much so that it took her a decade to earn her degree in drama and sociology from Hunter. She met her husband when they both worked at the Irving Trust Bank in the early 1970s.
A striking woman, she pursued an acting career, landing roles in “Cadillac Man,” “Ghostbusters,” “Moonstruck,” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” She also hosted “The Marie Colwell Show” on Time Warner Cable.
Later, she went back to school, earning two master's degrees before working at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, the Washington Square Institute, and the New York Council on Problem Gambling.
Colwell, who kept her maiden name throughout life, was a women’s rights advocate: She threatened to sue Irving Trust when the bank didn’t want to pay her unless she used her married name — and won the argument.
“When it was all over, I said to her, how did you do that?” Spurga said of the contretemps. “She winked at me, and she said, ‘When they won't give you a seat at the table, bring your own folding chair.’”
“Marie was spectacular,” Spurga added. “She walked into a room and everybody gathered around her and wanted to bask in the light that she showed.”