GRANBY - Timothy Patrick Merritt, 51, the popular principal of Sunderland Elementary School, died Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013.
The youngest of six siblings in a close-knit Irish-Catholic family, Tim was a beloved son, brother, husband, father and uncle.
Born in Dover, Del., he grew up in several states as his father served in the U.S. Air Force. Tim attended Granby Junior-Senior High School, where he lettered in soccer, basketball and baseball. After graduation, he enrolled in Providence College and later graduated from the University of Massachusetts.
Tim worked in a few businesses early in his career until he gravitated to his passion, teaching. In his first assignment in education, he supervised students serving detentions at Amherst Regional High School, an unenviable job that nonetheless helped him develop empathy for a range of students. He then accepted a position at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, to teach English and Journalism. It was there that Tim realized that he had found his calling. He relished opportunities to intellectually challenge and nurture students, from the most eager to the most reluctant.
His talents were noticed not only in the classroom but in all aspects of his professional life, so much so that when the school district needed a principal for Sunderland Elementary School, he was asked to leave his high school classroom to lead an elementary school building. In his first year, he transformed the relationship between the school and community with a number of events that opened doors literally and figuratively. Some involved harvesting corn and others flipping pancakes; all raised awareness of the wonderful work being done at Sunderland by students and staff. He loved both and looked for every opportunity to herald them.
In his personal life, Tim carried with him his Irish heritage - an unabashed love of family, of people, of storytelling, of laughing, of writing, and of the Boston Red Sox. He was the son and brother who could arrive late to a family dinner and melt everyone with his charm and wit; he was a loving husband and the father who doted over his twin sons; and he was the cool uncle who knew everything about pop culture.
Tim is survived by his wife Nancy Inouye; sons Kai and Taro; parents Major (retired) Cyrus and Barbara Merritt of Old Saybrook, Conn.; brother Commander (retired) Mark Merritt of Austin, Texas; sisters Betsy Grim of Belchertown, Pam Brisson of Avon, Conn., Susan Trompke and Tricia Pancione, both of Granby; in-laws Robin Merritt, Kirk Grim, John Trompke, and Michael Pancione; and a dozen nieces and nephews, Cy, Sean and Heather Merritt, Colleen Barlow, Christopher and Bridget Grim, Scott and Kate Brisson, Kelly Trompke and Jennifer Dowe and Brendan and Maggie Kuntz.
A funeral Mass will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Granby. Burial will follow in West Cemetery.
Calling hours will be Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Beers & Story South Hadley Funeral Home, 646 Newton St. (Rt.116).
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Timothy P. Merritt Memorial Fund at Sunderland Elementary School, c/o Greenfield Savings Bank, 61 North Main St., South Deerfield, MA 01373.
For more information, please visit www.beersandstory.com.
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Beers & Story Funeral Home
10 Maple Street Belchertown, MA 01007
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Oct. 1, 2013