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Robert L. Merriam 1924 - 2014

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Robert L. Merriam

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August 30, 2015
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August 30, 2015
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August 28, 2015
It seems fitting that my tribute to Mr. Merriam should be last. At the end of a long mediocre soccer practice, Mr. Merriam sent us on an unexpected run around the entire lower level. We doubled over gasped for air at the finish. We were sure we were done and could head back to the gym to collapse. But this time, he led us back to the field again. We ran Scottish nines followed by 50 and 100 yard sprints. "Last man runs again" he shouted. Before the penultimate sprint, Mr. Merriam called out "finish strong boys... Go!" We took off and ran like the wind with nothing left in the tank. He showed us the strength we never knew we had. Mr. Merriam authored my Deerfield legacy in those four words...and his words have kept me strong to this day. 1967-1971
July 15, 2015
Few persons in my life made a stronger impact on me than Robert Merriam. I studied for him, played for him, looked up to him. In my junior year my family went through a difficult time. Mr. Merriam was there for me with advice on how to handle it. Back then, I didn't understand the full meaning of his words but I never forgot them. The fact is, his terrific instincts about how to reach others enabled him to deliver a message that stuck. He may have been a schoolteacher and coach, but what he really taught me were life lessons.

One fun memory is a day in sophomore English class when Mr. Merriam, referring to a character in the reading assignment, asked one boy, What is a gigolo? After a clueless pause, the fellow replied, Someone who jiggles? We all had a good laugh, and no one louder than Merriam, who then followed up quickly by making the poor guy feel not foolish but as somebody in on his own joke.

This was the essence of the man. He may have come off tough but in that instant he showed the great good heart and empathy that were his finest qualities.

Postscript.
As a senior I was assistant manager of the varsity hockey team. I always will remember that when our team played well practically the first thing Mr. Merriam would mention was not the goal scoring but the forechecking. And whenever we lost he never failed to mention that the boys could have forechecked better. That wasn't just good hockey sense. It explains Bob Merriam in a nutshella scrappy little guy who liked giving the other guy a good whack, who had sharp elbows and never shied from going into the corner to dig out the puck.
September 19, 2014
September 19, 2014
I didn't know Bob Merriam very well as a student at Deerfield. Never had him as a teacher or a coach. But looking back, I realize that he had a profound effect on me, helping to mold my character by teaching and reinforcing in all of us the importance of discipline and respect for the rule of order. I got to know him in a very different, and much more human(e) way at our 25th reunion in 1992. My wife, Philomene and I, enjoyed a wonderful Sunday afternoon with Bob and Mary, and with their RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) son, Rob, and his African wife and newborn baby on their family farm not far from Deerfield. I came away from that encounter with the sense that I had gotten to know Bob in a much fuller, multi-dimensional way than I had as a student. I will cherish the memories of that day always. Thank you, Bob, for all that you contributed to the lives of so many of us.

Rob Walbridge -- Abidjan, Ivory Coast

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September 19, 2014
I learned so much from Mr. Merriam over my four
years and the highlight was playing on his varsity
soccer team senior year. What a great teacher,
coach and human being.
September 19, 2014
I didn't know Bob Merriam very well as a student at Deerfield. Never had him as a teacher or a coach. But looking back, I realize that he had a profound effect on me, helping to mold my character by teaching and reinforcing in all of us the importance of discipline and respect for the rule of order. I got to know him in a very different, and much more human(e) way at our 25th reunion in 1992. My wife, Philomene and I, enjoyed a wonderful Sunday afternoon with Bob and Mary, and with their RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) son, Rob, and his African wife and newborn baby on their family farm not far from Deerfield. I came away from that encounter with the sense that I had gotten to know Bob in a much fuller, multi-dimensional way than I had as a student. I will cherish the memories of that day always. Thank you, Bob, for all that you contributed to the lives of so many of us.
September 04, 2014
Bob Merriam. He was key in making Deerfield magic. He showed us how to be a human-being. Be the most yourself, and always remember others. Always reach to be the best, and have empathy for failures. Men like him pepper culture and literature as ideals. An icon from pantheon of the great in my life passes on, but never forgotten. Thank you, Bob. Joe Chen, 1967, your manager.
August 22, 2014
Three Meals! Be There! As much as I resisted and resented as a teen, Mr. Merriam planted the seeds that sprouted into truth, integrity, fairness and honesty. He appears to me every time I encounter the word "occurred", which I learned to spell correctly in his English II class whilst he held my loafer over my face. At our 40th reunion he encouraged me to call him Bob, but I had the damnedest time doing so, used as I am to using Mr. Merriam in his presence and Frowner behind his back. My condolences to his family, know he will live in my heart as long as it beats.
David Chittim '69
August 20, 2014
My memories of overnights in the big house at the north end of town stand out prominently from those early years in Deerfield. Mr. Merriam both scared me and made me laugh.
Love to all of you, especially Mrs. Merriam.
Rachel Blain
August 20, 2014
None of us ever forgets the rare individuals who forever shaped our lives by the example they set for us when we were young. Bob Merriam was one of those individuals. He showed us nothing less than how to live a worthwhile life, because he showed us decency, honesty, fairness, determination, empathy, kindness, and every other admirable quality of character and citizenship. To me he personified all the intangibles that Deerfield has always been about. We were lucky to know him.
Nat Emmons (1960)
August 18, 2014
I have been in the process of moving my home, and I hadn't had a chance to sit down and express my thoughts about Bob Merriam until now. I remember Mr. Merriam when he was the Dean of Students (or as we called him, the Dean of Discipline) during the time I spent at Deerfield (1967-1969). In those days, he wore his hair in a military style butch cut, so this photo of him is surprising. As a kid from Bakersfield, California, I was remarkably unsuited for the prep school environment, and I confess that my main goal during those two years was to sneak off campus as much as I could. Bob knew I was periodically escaping, and he desperately wanted to catch me in the act, which he never did (and he later remarked to me that it drove him a little crazy). So having been one of the '60's misfits who infiltrated the Academy, whose ways most of the faculty had considerable difficulty understanding, I was surprised how gratiously he treated me at my 25th reunion, remarking to my then wife his begrudging respect for me, considering I was doing my best to be the antithesis of what a Deerfield boy was supposed to be. My sympathy and thoughts to his family, and my respect to Bob, wherever he may be, for a life well lived.

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