Marilyn Colson, 72, advised students

July 12, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Marilyn L. Colson, an educational counselor who shepherded high school students through the ordeal of gaining college admission, died Wednesday of lung cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 72 and lived in Pikesville.

A former Park School mathematics teacher, she opened her educational consulting practice in 1983 to guide students through the hurdles - and paperwork - of getting into a school she thought would fit them. She also placed middle and high school students in boarding schools and often advised the families of children with learning disabilities. Colleagues said she was well known to the admissions departments of numerous schools.

"She established a wonderful rapport with my daughter, Danielle," said John Manchester, a lawyer who lives in Scarsdale, N.Y., who came to Baltimore for her services. "She made her feel she was important, she spoke with her often and wound up understanding her and her needs."

"She knew her field backward and forward, and stayed up to date - even if it meant traveling quite a bit," said her colleague, Alice G. Dvoskin, a psychologist. "It was a delight to work with her personally. She was kind, thorough and had a strong sense of humor."

Born Marilyn Leavitt in Baltimore and raised on Garrison Boulevard in Northwest Baltimore, she was a 1948 graduate of Forest Park High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Goucher College and a master's degree in education from the Johns Hopkins University.

She taught algebra and geometry at Roland Park Country School from 1969 to 1972 and later lectured in analysis, calculus and statistics at Goucher College. She was the chairwoman of the mathematics department at the Park School in Baltimore County during the 1980s. She also taught microeconomics to college sophomores interested in Western business at Lujiang University in China in 1993.

"She was the quintessential professional who helped change and shape the lives of so many children and families she touched," said Gail Liss, a psycho-educational specialist who lives in Pikesville. "She was an advocate for children. She had an ability to make a child open up to her - often more than anyone else. She had the gift of compassion and understanding."

"She was able to find the best schools for a bright child with learning disabilities," said Tema Friedman, a parent who lives in Baltimore. "She was a vigorous advocate for my son, and he did an 180-degree turnaround because of her."

Mrs. Colson was also a board member of the Hearing and Speech Agency at St. Paul and 23rd streets.

"She brought intelligence, grace and dignity to her work," said Susan Glasgow, executive director of Hearing and Speech Agency. "She kept us on her toes in a really nice way - she inspired and encouraged us to improve our relations with our parents and grandparents. She also helped us strengthen our board. She had a clear vision of the future. We improved because of her work here."

Mrs. Colson was a former president of the Brandeis Women's Committee.

Graveside services will be held at noon today at Har Sinai Cemetery, Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills.

She is survived by her husband of nearly 50 years, Charles S. Colson; three daughters, Deborah A. Colson of Clarksville, Nancy C. Minch of Baltimore and Eve R. Colson of Woodbridge, Conn.; and seven grandchildren.

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