Saturday, July 26, 2014

Robert L. Merriam '43

Mr. Merriam c. 1965
CONWAY - Robert L. Merriam, 90, of Conway died Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at home.

Born in Greenfield, June 4, 1924, he was the son of Louis Thayer and Alice (Abercrombie) Merriam. Bob raised his family and spent his career in Franklin County, where he influenced the education and lives of thousands of young people since 1948.

He graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1943 and immediately entered the U.S. Navy's V-12 program. He interrupted studies at Dartmouth College to serve on the USS Boston, and his ship was anchored nearby at the surrender in August 1945. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Lieutenant, j.g.

He returned to graduate from Dartmouth in 1948, where he was the only four-year, three letter athlete in the college's history, excelling in soccer, hockey and lacrosse. He returned to Deerfield Academy, dedicated to the services of Frank L. Boyden and the school as an educator, coach and administrator for 22 years.

Through the years, he was a dormitory master, member of the English Department, Registrar, Dean of Students, fund-raiser, and coached hockey, soccer and lacrosse. In 1970, he became Headmaster of Stoneleigh Burnham School and led the school through a period of transition, leaving it with an increased enrollment, an improved financial position and a strong foundation in the arts. The latter part of his career was at Greenfield Community College serving as Assistant to the President and Director of Development, retiring in 1988.

He started a Rare, Used, and Old Book business in 1969 and engaged in business with customers worldwide. He is a published author and one of his poems can be found inscribed on a plaque at the north entrance to Old Deerfield, Mass. He is also a locally known primitive painter and his paintings of Franklin County town commons can be found hanging in many area homes.

He leaves his devoted wife of 57 years, Mary Nims McDonald, who was a stalwart supporter and partner throughout his boarding school career and a tireless caretaker in his later years. He leaves four children, Robert of Vermont, Melinda O'Brien of Branford, Conn., Susan Bobe and her husband Viorel of Leyden and Abigail Merriam and her husband Mark Kidder of Montague: eight grandchildren, Mindy Merriam-Alexander, Eshalla Merriam, Casey, Betsey and Charlie O'Brien and Christine, Alyssa and Jennifer Bobe; and one great-granddaughter, Avielle Alexander.

An internment service will be held on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at 11 a.m. at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Eaglebrook Hill, Deerfield, Mass. A Memorial Service and reception will be held at a later date in August. 

Published in The Recorder on July 26, 2014. Photo courtesy of Deerfield Academy.