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Honor For A Longtime Companion: $11 Million To College

July 24, 1996

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Harvey Wexler never attended the all-female Bryn Mawr College. His $11 million gift to the school was in honor of the love of his life, a neighbor he dated for 20 years but never married.

Wexler, 67, who died in October, bequeathed the largest gift ever to the suburban Philadelphia college in the memory of Joan Coward, who graduated in 1946 and died of cancer six years before him at age 67.

He and Coward lived in the same apartment building, but in different apartments, for two decades.

``They spent almost all day, every day together,″ said Coward’s sister-in-law, Margaret Johnson of Chevy Chase, Md. ``But not, as she jokingly said, for breakfast.″

When Coward died, Wexler searched for a way to honor her life. Almost immediately, he centered on Bryn Mawr, spokeswoman Donna Wiley said.

Wexler, an airline industry economist, was especially pleased the school had a course in the history of economics, a subject that fascinated him.

Coward was also an economist, working for the government. They met at a conference.

Talk of marriage came up from time to time, but never lasted.

``I guess they each wanted to maintain that certain separatedness and independence,″ Urban said. ``They said the fact they weren’t married strengthened their relationship.″

Wexler’s gift will be used to create two professorships, one in economic history and named for his parents, Samuel and Etta Wexler, and the other, in political economy, named for Coward.

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