John C. Merritt '38
Deceased May 22, 2007
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John C. Merritt
John was at Amherst only two years, but he made friendships there which lasted all his life. He was known for his courtly manners and sense of humor.
“A true gentleman,” was what classmate Ed Salley called him in a note a few days after his death.
His wife, Natalie, said John injured his head in a fall at his house in Bedford, NY, in March and never recovered. He died May 25, aged ninety-one.
John liked to attend lunches of our so-called Eastern Establishment at a Westport, CT, restaurant. At a recent one, he brought a letter he had saved from Bob Buehler, who died in 2003. Bob was our Class humorist and the letter, read rollickingly by John, contained one of Bob’s typically double-entendre raunchy jokes. We all roared, thus celebrating both Bob posthumously and John at the table.
Born in Larchmont, NY, John prepared for Amherst at Avon Old Farms School. After leaving Amherst, where he was Psi Upsilon, John got a BS degree from New York Univ.’s School of Commerce in 1938. He achieved the rank of army captain in WWII, serving as a cryptologist in the Pacific theater.
Affiliated with his father, Clarence C. Merritt, in real estate, John built houses to meet veterans’ demands after the war. He went on to form a fifty-year partnership with William B. Holby, building more than one thousand houses in Westchester, Fairfield and Long Island.
The firm also constructed the Rye Bridge Shopping Center in 1961, the Harrison Executive Park in 1969 and the Greenwich Hills Condominiums in 1975.
John was president of the Port Chester-Rye Brook Rotary Club and was active for many years with the Port Chester YMCA, the Salvation Army and the United Way. His funeral was held at the North Greenwich Congregational Church.
John and Natalie Hussar were married in 1981. His first wife, Dorritt Sibley, whom he married in 1945, died. Besides Natalie, he is survived by two children, John Jr., and Susan Coates; four grandchildren; his sister, Marjorie; and an extended family from his second marriage.
George Bria ’38