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"Part of Something Larger"—Marilyn Spiegl Discovers a Win-Win Way to Support Stanford, Herself, and Her Family


Marilyn Spiegl

Twenty-five years ago Marilyn Spiegl created her first charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) with her husband, Ralph Spiegl, '45, MD '48. Marilyn and Ralph liked the features of the CRUT: it was set up to provide an annual payout to them during their lifetimes, and they could designate how the remaining assets would be used at Stanford after their lifetimes. Stanford serves as trustee of the CRUT and handles the investing as well as the administration of the trust.

Because of their strong connections with Stanford Medicine, Marilyn and Ralph chose to support the Stanford Medical Student Scholars Program. "In my family, education was always prized," Marilyn said. "I love the idea of supporting Stanford and medical students."

Ralph, who passed away in 2009,was a beloved and highly respected Stanford internal medicine physician. Together, he and Marilyn, a noted interior designer, were extraordinary volunteer fundraisers for medical research at Stanford, and they donated much of their art collection to Stanford's Cantor Center for Visual Arts. As a member of the Stanford (now Cantor) Museum Art Committee, Marilyn led Art and Architecture tours.

"Volunteering for Stanford was a major, major focus for us. We worked as a team. Ralph was grateful for what Stanford had given him and wanted to give back. We loved being part of something much larger than ourselves," Marilyn said.

Over the years, the couple developed many relationships with medical students, but one stood out. The student, Maher Abbas, loved to cook, and he and Marilyn collaborated on cooking delicious Lebanese and California cuisine dinners and giving cooking lessons to her friends and Stanford students. Maher and Marilyn even wrote a combination Lebanese and California Cuisine cookbook together. Maher is now a prominent colorectal surgeon and was recently invited to head up the gastrointestinal program at the new Cleveland Clinic-Abu Dhabi. "I am so proud of him. Ralph would be bursting his buttons," Marilyn said.

Because of Marilyn's positive experience with Stanford serving as trustee of her first CRUT, she has created additional CRUTs to provide an annual payout to her children for life with the remainder benefiting medical students at Stanford in the future. She has also planned her estate so that the CRUTs that provide an annual payout to her children will receive additional assets after her lifetime, thereby increasing the annual support for her children and the future gift for Stanford Medicine.

"Stanford has done such a good job over the years. It's a win-win for everyone. It provides an annual payout—and it's a safety net for my children," Marilyn said. Interested in learning more about how to establish a trust that will benefit you, your loved ones, and medicine at Stanford? Contact the Office of Planned Giving at 650.723.6560 or

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