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Cecil Duke Mercer, a retired Distinguished Professor at the University of Florida, passed away on Friday, November 21, 2014 at home after a long battle with neurological Lyme Disease. He was born on January 31, 1943 in Wilson, North Carolina to Russell Arden and Lois Octavia Mercer. He graduated from John Marshall High School in Richmond, Virginia, where he was student body president. Cecil's education continued at University of Richmond, where he earned a BA degree and was on the baseball team and a member of Phi Gamma Delta. He then attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned a MS degree, and the University of Virginia where he earned a doctorate in education.
Cecil met his wife Ann Louise Robertson while at the University of Richmond and they married on September 10, 1966 in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to receiving his doctorate, Cecil worked as a superintendent at a study home for boys, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, a supervisor of a vocational rehabilitation unit, and a teacher of Head Start students and students with learning disabilities. In 1974, he and his family moved to Gainesville, FL, and he began work as a professor at the University of Florida College of Education. He retired in 2005 due to medical reasons.
Cecil was a well-known speaker and a prolific writer. He was the keynote or featured speaker at education or business conferences in 41 states. He also authored or coauthored 22 textbooks, 17 curriculum materials, and numerous book chapters and refereed journal articles. In addition, he served on the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association and was a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
While at the University of Florida, Cecil received numerous awards, including the Teacher of the Year Award three times, the Advisor/ Mentoring Award, and the Professorial Excellence Program Award. Cecil was co-Founder and Director of the 'Ross-Mercer Program', also known as the Florida Multidisciplinary Diagnostic and Training Program (MDTP), which has served children with learning disabilities and underachievement difficulties in the school districts of North Central Florida since 1980. In addition, after his retirement, Cecil received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Research and Leadership from the University of Florida and the Outstanding Higher Education Faculty Alumni Award from the University of Virginia.
In addition to his professional passion for teaching, speaking, and writing, Cecil enjoyed playing golf, coaching baseball, gardening, and traveling. He had a tremendous sense of humor and loved to tell stories and jokes. Cecil especially enjoyed his grandchildren, who affectionately called him 'Pop' and brought him great joy.
Cecil was preceded in death by his parents, Arden and Lois Mercer, and his brother, Irvin Mercer. He is survived by his devoted wife of 48 years, Ann Robertson Mercer of Gainesville; his sons, Kevin Gray Mercer (Jen) of Jacksonville, Gregory Todd Mercer (Erica) of Jacksonville, and Kenneth Duke Mercer of Gainesville; his sister Denise Meador (Bill) of Chesterfield, VA; his sister-in-law Brenda Mercer of Elkton, VA; and six grandchildren, Noelle, Nicholas, Ansley, Sadie, Emerson, and Ford.
Cecil was a faithful member of Trinity United Methodist Church. For those who wish, contributions can be made in his memory to the Cecil Mercer Scholarship Fund at Trinity United Methodist Church.
A Memorial service, with Dr. Dan Johnson officiating, will be held at 1:00 on Tuesday, November 25th, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 NW 53rd Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32653. A reception will follow at the Church.
Arrangements are under the care of Williams-Thomas Funeral Home. Please visit his memorial page at

Published in Gainesville Sun from Nov. 23 to Nov. 24, 2014
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