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MERCK--Albert. Albert Wall Merck died peacefully at his home in Lexington, MA. on July 22. Following an early career at Merck & Co., he devoted decades of his life to public service in the fields of politics, education and philanthropy. He was born on August 31, 1920, the second son of George W. Merck, and Josephine Wall Merck. He was raised in Llewellyn Park, West Orange, NJ, and New York City, where he attended St. Bernard's School. He graduated from St. George's School in Newport, RI in 1939. His college years at Harvard were interrupted by the war, during which time he served as a first lieutenant in the field artillery in the Pacific. He returned to Harvard after the war, but chose to be included in the class of 1943. Mr. Merck married Katharine Evarts in 1946. They were devoted to each other for the following 68 years. Mr. Merck began his career at Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company established in New York by his grandfather in 1890. The company originated with E. Merck of Darmstadt, Germany. In the mid-1960s Mr. Merck turned his attention to education and public service. He earned Masters degrees in Education at Columbia University and Rutgers University. Among many board memberships he served on the Boards of St. George's School and Westminster Choir College. He also served on Board of the Regional Plan Association from 1961 to 1987. He was Chairman of the RPA in the 1960s during a period of rapid expansion of the New York metropolitan area. In 1971, Mr. Merck was elected to the New Jersey Assembly, representing the portion of Morris County that includes Mendham, where he and his family were located for 47 years. Upon the advent of casino gambling in New Jersey, Mr. Merck was appointed to the Casino Control Commission by Gov. Brendan Byrne. He enjoyed the challenge of applying ethical principles to the work of the Commission and often found himself at odds with the casino interests. During the 1980's Mr. Merck served as Chairman of the New Jersey Board of Higher Education. He also held a seat on the Board of Merck & Co. for many years, retiring in 1993. In 1998 Mr. and Mrs. Merck moved to Brookhaven in Lexington, MA where he embarked on another phase of public service. He worked tirelessly to accelerate the adoption of information technology in the field of teaching and learning. These projects involved a wide variety of institutions including the Friends Academy of North Dartmouth, St. George's School, Lesley University and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Mr. Merck's family life included travel and summers in Mattapoisett, MA. He enjoyed sailing, fishing, reading, singing, and playing the piano. A raconteur and family patriarch, he delighted friends and family with anecdotes, wit and a superb grasp of history. Mr. Merck was pre-deceased by his daughter Katharine, and is survived by his wife Katharine, his son Albert in California, Friedrike Merck of Bearsville, NY, Patience Chamberlin of Exeter, NH, and Wilhelm Merck of Hamilton, MA. He had eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Published in New York Times on Jul. 24, 2014.
Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
August 6, 2019
So sorry to hear of Als passing. He was a wonderful man in many ways and inspired so many others with his wonderful works. My fondest memory is him sharing his wonderful wife Kate with Plaid House. From Stella, Carpenter former director of Plaid House
Stella Carpenter
August 20, 2014
Al was both a realist and a visionary on education policy from kindergarten-grade 12 and higher education. He was frequently a game changer. My years with Al began when I joined him on the Visiting Committee to the Board of Overseers for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He always was able to think ahead of the curve and influenced educational policy at many levels. I shall sorely miss the years I had with Al and I hope to continue to see his lovely wife, Kate.
John Reidy
August 17, 2014
Mrs. Merck: I just learned of the passing of your dear husband and friend. I'll always remember the day you moved into Brookhaven where I was at the front desk when you arrived. You both
had such wonderful smiles. I will always remember the kindness you showed to me whenever you came into the Cafe/Lobby at Brookhaven. I just wanted you to know that you are thought about with fond memories. I am so sorry for your loss. So happy you had each other for so many years. My best to you. Love, Millie Bille
Millie Bille
August 14, 2014
Al was such a huge supporter of our work at WGBH. I will miss him enormously, especially our lively meetings where we hotly debated education issues. Al's legacy will be with us, as we continue to push the boundries of teacher professional development.
Denise Blumenthal
August 14, 2014
What to say about Al? Mr. Merck? Albert?

When we mark the really important moments of our lives, I think we always go back to the moments when we were at our best, when the sum of our previous efforts and failures came together in a way that perhaps we hadn't anticipated but when they did, it was catching a wave or riding that bike with no hands for the first time.

Meeting and talking with Al Merck was one of those moments.

For me, at least, he made me really think hard about my words and actions; he demanded a precision and clarity that was backed by his own undeniable logic: there had to be a better way to educate people and make their lives better. But through all of our encounters, he epitomized the kind of interactions which are now unfortunately only display in the "museum of how people once behaved". He was precisely attentive, responsive, forceful and playful all at the same time. He drew you into his world, offered you a comfortable chair, a tall glass of something cool and refreshing and then re-adjusted how you understood the world, your world, and all of the things you thought that you really knew.

I learned a lot from Al, more than I can tally on a single spreadsheet, memo, or webpage. I'm a better person for having been able to work with him, and I am certain that legions of kids and their teachers and families are better today than they would have been if he hadn't lived the life he lived, and engaged in the work he cared so much about.

Wind at your back, Mr. Merck.
Howard Lurie
August 8, 2014
I am very sad to hear this news. The earth has lost a true friend. My love to Mrs Merck.
Andrew Nease
August 5, 2014
Condolences to the family on the loss of Albert. Know that his business integrity continues to be a core value of the company.
Margaret Coughlin, former Merck employee
July 30, 2014
My sincere condolences with the loss of Albert Merck.
Karin Jager, employee of Merck Animal Health
July 28, 2014
You will be sorely missed by all who value truly innovative education.
Norris Strawbridge
July 27, 2014
I remember Al from my earliest days at Merck. He aalways treated me with kindness.
Richard Freeman
July 25, 2014
My most sincere sympathies to you, Kate, on your loss of this wonderful person. We shall all miss that lovely smile and warm personality. Ann Butler
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