MERYON MITCHELL BAIL

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MERYON MITCHELL BAIL

November 14, 2012

Meryon Mitchell Bail, 94, of Fort Myers, passed away peacefully on November 14th, 2012 in the Pavillion at Shell Point. Meryon was born in Akron, Ohio, and was raised in an artistic environment. Her father, George Mitchell, a talented artist and architect, had studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, and her mother Blanche wrote poetry and created jewelry. As her form of expression Meryon embraced dance, beginning her ballet training at the age of nine, and continuing serious study in Cleveland under Sergie Nadejdin of the Russian Imperial Theater and later under Mme. Craske and Ted Shawn. After receiving a degree in English and Social Studies from Case Western Reserve in 1941, she was certified as a secondary school teacher. She worked as an announcer in a radio station, and then in 1943, joined the Overseas Hospital Service of the American Red Cross. In November of 1943, she arrived in New Guinea, where she led entertainment and activities for injured service personnel.

Between 1943 and 1945, she served in New Guinea, New Britain, the Philippines and Australia. During her service she joined a diplomatic mission to meet the Sultan of Sulu in Zamboango, Mindanao. A trip to New Britain on an LST (beach landing ship) to set up a canteen turned into an emergency evacuation of wounded soldiers, whom she nursed on the return trip to the mainland. She received commendation from the American Red Cross and Coast Guard. In December of 1946, the Red Cross Hospital Service assigned Meryon to postwar Europe to serve in Germany.

Upon returning to the United States in 1948, she interned under dance therapy pioneer Marian Chace at Saint Elizabeth's, a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C. In 1949 she married architect George H. Bail, of Fort Myers Florida, a recent graduate of Princeton University and World War II veteran. Upon moving to Florida, Meryon quickly became involved with the arts in her new community. For the 1952 Edison Pageant of Light, she organized a performance of Dunbar High School students who danced to spirituals sung by the Dunbar Glee Club. After a bout with polio, she taught herself to walk again, and soon continued her involvement with dance, starting a studio. In addition to teaching ballet and modern dance, Meryon sought out local individuals to share Polynesian, Hungarian, Japanese, Indian, and other ethnic dance forms with her students. The coach of the Fort Myers High School boy's basketball team invited Meryon to help condition his team. He later attributed their Regional Championship that year to the strenuous dance exercises that she gave them. She collaborated with Tom Walters, a local musician and teacher, on the television documentary "Dance in Education," which was distributed state wide. In an effort to involve more men in dance, she initiated dance performances on the Edison campus, later teaching credit courses at the college. Seven students, including two of her daughters, went on to pursue careers in dance after receiving college dance degrees. Two of the men became heads of dance departments.

Meryon and her husband George opened their home to artists, dancers, musicians, actors, writers, and those that shared their enthusiasm for the arts. Throughout her life she reached out to others, fostering two children, and later tending to the elderly. She was a vibrant and caring person, and will be missed. Meryon is survived by her husband, George Bail, and three daughters, Milne Cato, Laura Wilson, and Muriel Redifer, five grandchildren and two step-grandchildren. Those wishing to honor her memory may make memorial offerings to the American Red Cross, or to the scholarship fund of Young Artists Awards Inc. of Fort Myers.

Published in The News-Press on Nov. 17, 2012
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