Dorothy C. Merritt, 88, homemaker

April 14, 2006

Dorothy C. Merritt, a homemaker who had been active in the affairs of historic Epiphany Episcopal Church in Odenton for many years, died from complications of dementia Wednesday at Genesis Multi-Medical Center in Towson. She was 88.

Dorothy Constance Miller was born and raised in New Durham, N.H. After graduating from high school in 1934, she completed business and bookkeeping courses at McIntosh College in Dover, N.H.

As a young woman, she played piano and wrote poetry that was published in Boston newspapers. She was working as a telephone company bookkeeper in 1941 in Somersworth, N.H., when she met her future husband, John R. Merritt, as he came in to pay his phone bill.

They married three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

During World War II, Mrs. Merritt worked for the Colt firearms plant in Hartford, Conn. After the war, the Merritts lived in South Carolina and upstate New York, where Mr. Merritt managed dairy farms.

The couple moved to Gambrills in 1974 when Mr. Merritt was appointed farm manager of the old Naval Academy dairy farm. After his retirement, they moved to Severn. He died in 1994.

For many years, Mrs. Merritt was a communicant of Epiphany Episcopal Church. Built in 1918, it is the only known chapel in the nation built for soldiers headed to Europe during World War I.

Mrs. Merritt was the church's longtime registrar, vestry member and head of the altar guild and service committee.

"She was a wonderful and gracious woman who was dedicated to the church and headed up the search committee that hired me 20 years ago. She was dedicated to community service," said the Rev. Phebe L. McPherson, the first woman to be ordained by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

"Dorothy Merritt, who is the same vintage as our church building, taught me tenacity, and her inner strength was evident in everything she did. When people were upset at times, she was very calm, and we attributed that to her being a Northerner," she said.

A Towson resident since 1999, Mrs. Merritt was an avid, yet sometimes critical, Orioles fan, said her son, Harry W. Merritt of Towson, an editor at The Sun.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete yesterday.

Also surviving are four other sons, William H. Merritt of Morgantown, W.Va., Robert D. Merritt of Glen Burnie, Grover D. Merritt of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Steve Merritt of Annandale, Va.; and two grandsons. A daughter, Dorothy Schwartz, died in 1998.

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