Carolyn Merhige, a local educator, avid sailor and Scrabble champ, died June 9, 2022. A longtime Amity Harbor resident, she was 84 years old.
Mrs. Merhige was born November 15, 1937 at Mount Morris Park Hospital in Manhattan to Gertrude and Charles Betzag. She grew up in Massapequa with two siblings, Fredrick and Cathy, and attended Amityville High School. She later graduated from Seton Hall Catholic High School in Patchogue.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching from SUNY Cortland where she was also on the synchronized swim team and an active sorority member. She furthered her education at SUNY Stony Brook and Hofstra University, earning master’s degrees from both.
Former classmate and close friend Maryann Errico fondly recalls time spent together at Hofstra University and in the decades following graduation.
“I was always appreciative of her kind words, advice and willingness to share her experiences,” said Errico. “Eventually I moved to Atlanta but every time we had the opportunity to get together, we picked up right from where we had left off.”
Mrs. Merhige enjoyed a long career in education, working as a reading specialist and special education teacher at Copiague High School and Forest Hill PS 144. She also served as Copiague’s tennis coach for several years.
“She inspired me to pursue a career in education and taught me that any positive goal is possible to achieve,” said friend Theresa McShane-Murphy.
Mrs. Merhige married the love of her life, Richard Merhige Sr. in 1960. The couple raised five children – Richard, Ronald, Rachel, Rosemary and Pamela – and together made memories skiing, building and sailing boats, and traveling to countries including Italy, Germany, England, Ireland and Egypt. The couple’s prized possession was their 35-foot Pearson sailboat named “Marowa.”
“She was truly a Long Island girl,” said daughter Rachel. “She enjoyed sailing on the Great South Bay right off the backyard of her longtime home, as well as to Block Island and Sailors Haven at Fire Island.”
She was a member of the Narrasketuck Boating Club in Amityville, frequently sailing with other members, volunteering for social events at the club, and enrolling her grandchildren in the sailing school program. She was an active participant and former board member of the Copiague Library Book Club, and volunteered time with the Girl Scouts and PTA. She was also a lifelong parishioner of St. Martin of Tours RCC in Amityville.
Mrs. Merhige found delight in preparing foods including lasagna, sauerbraten, cranberry oatmeal cookies and Irish soda bread. She was also a competitive player of cards and games such as bridge, mah-jongg, backgammon and dominos. She especially enjoyed Scrabble, frequently challenging friends and family.
“My husband and I still talk about how she and her husband killed us in Scrabble,” said Errico.
Each summer, Mrs. Merhige looked forward to a family reunion held in South Bethany Beach, DE. The time well-spent with her children and grandchildren always included scavenger hunts, sitting together on the beach and themed dinners.
“She loved her entire family dearly and her spirit will be missed by many,” said friend Heather Markin. “Her love, light and laughter lives on in her husband, children and grandchildren.”
Mrs. Merhige was predeceased by her brother Fredrick “Fred” Betzag in 2005.
Mrs. Merhige is survived by her husband of 62 years and U.S. Navy veteran, Richard “Dick” Merhige Sr. of Amity Harbor, and children Richard Merhige and his wife Christine Battles of Pompano Beach, Florida; Ronald Merhige and his wife Susan of Greenlawn; Rachel Maines and her husband Michael of Olney, Maryland; Rosemary Romoser and her husband Scot of Fairfax, Virginia; and Pamela Maple and her husband Norman of Annandale, Virginia. Her grandchildren Nicholas, Andrew, Alexander, William, Gregory, Stephanie, Laurel, Claire, Erin and Katherine; sister Cathy Cassot-Farley; and sister-in-law Barbara Betzag also survive her.
Funeral arrangements were under the direction of D’Andrea Bros. Funeral Home. Religious services were celebrated at St. Martin of Tours Church in Amityville. Interment followed at National Cemetery in Calverton.