Marvin and Shirley Strait were a much-loved couple, partners for 62 years, who found hundreds of ways to give back to nonprofits, foundations, communities, boards and organizations.
One favorite was the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and its foundation created in 1996. Now the couple’s legacy is set in stone with their names above doors leading into the center’s main art galleries.
Friends, family, board members, center members and Colorado College representatives were among the guests Feb. 3 for the unveiling and a First Friday reception.
The Straits’ daughter, Debbie Gonzales, said her parents “possessed righteous values,” values possibly developed during childhood times by their parents and their religion.
From Pueblo, Marv and Shirley started smiling at each other during middle school and married during college years. Early on, Marv had a newspaper route and Shirley helped out by riding along on the handlebars of his bicycle. Marv’s best friends back then remained his besties until his death in 2022, his daughter said. He was nationally known in accounting and as a valuation expert witness.
The Straits, said their daughter, had a “commitment to making their community and world a better place by contributing their time, talent and money. Their greatest impact was their time and effort invested in local organizations.”
The list of beneficiaries is long. Especially important was the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, because, said son Michael, “they appreciated the Fine Arts Center providing visual arts, performing arts and arts education to the entire Colorado Springs community.” Michael said his parents really enjoyed the center’s support of the performing arts, with a high-quality regional theater.
“My mother especially enjoyed the musicals, even though my father would not let her sing along!” Michael said.
When Marv was serving on the FAC Board of Trustees in 1996, he founded the Fine Arts Center Foundation, set up to endow the center for the future. It started with $9 million and has since paid out more than $18 million to what is now the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
Foundation president Thayer Tutt served on numerous boards with Marv Strait and both Tutt and Strait family members called Tutt and Strait “partners in crime.” They laughed their way through the collaborations, Tutt said, because “Marv loved being the bad guy. He won every argument. And he claimed being so old he was fully depreciated.”
His father, Michael said jokingly, appreciated the FAC much more than the hockey rivalry between CC and the University of Denver. At games, father and son sat together. Marv cheered for the Tigers and Michael the Pioneers.
Daughter Debbie thanked everyone for honoring their late parents and ended with a quote about them: “A beautiful face will age and a perfect body will change, but a beautiful soul will always be a beautiful soul.”