Merritt was born in Hartford in 1933, the son of the late Charles H. McDonough and Virginia Lee Danahy, and made his home in West Hartford for most of his life. He graduated from Kingswood School in 1951 and graduated from Georgetown University in 1955.
He is survived by his loving children and their spouses; Virginia Gasho and her husband Thomas of Simsbury, E. Merritt McDonough, Jr. and his wife Maggie of West Hartford, Guy McDonough of Ludlow, VT, Elizabeth Shannon and her husband Phil of Avon, Jennifer Albanesi and her husband David of Avon and a nephew, Val Nichols of Florida. He was also the adoring and proud grandfather of twelve grandchildren; Katherine and her husband Nick Falco, Tucker and Merritt Gasho, Elizabeth and her husband Paul Adams, Emily and Merritt McDonough III., Natalie and Kate McDonough, Philip and Graham Shannon, Patrick and Ryan Albanesi, and a great-granddaughter, Makaila Adams. He is predeceased by his two brothers, Charles and Joseph and his ex-wife Judith Gengras McDonough.
After college, Merritt served at Fort Dix and Governor’s Island, NY, an island he often joked was more than 5,000 miles removed from the coast of Japan! He quickly befriended a General, and the unlikely pair were often seen visiting the best restaurants in Manhattan. Merritt was also a willing accomplice to his father and his friends during their trips to the horse racetracks of New York and South Florida.
In 1958, he joined his father’s insurance agency and throughout his successful 60-year career he was admired by his peers and colleagues as a friend and adviser. He continued to work faithfully until his passing as an insurance executive at People’s United Insurance Agency, and was especially grateful to all his clients, whom he considered to be amongst his closest friends.
Merritt was a man of faith, a longstanding parishioner of St. Peter Claver Church and a daily reader of his prayer book. Merritt spent his life working tirelessly for the benefit of others. Active in philanthropy, he was a part of many record breaking campaigns. He was a trustee of The Connecticut Opera, The Hartford Stage, Saint Francis Hospital and Chairman of The Mount Sinai Hospital and The Saint Francis Foundation. He was also a trustee of Kingswood Oxford School and later trustee emeritus, and a trustee and corporator at Renbrook School for over four decades. Merritt was a member of The Hartford Canoe Club, The Hartford Golf Club, Indian Creek Country Club, and Fishers Island Club.
He enjoyed countless hours at these special places with his family and friends. An extraordinarily generous man, he felt the greatest joy in giving to others and was often called “the most gracious host ever”. He was always thankful his children and grandchildren lived locally, allowing him to attend countless sporting games, concerts, school plays and grandparent’s days. Merritt took pride in his lifelong aversion to salad and was unable to eat any meal without his favorite food, bread and butter.
Merritt will be remembered for his incredible warmth, kindness, selflessness, humor, and love towards those who were fortunate enough to have met him.
A Mass of Christian Burial in celebration of Merritt’s life will be held Friday, January 11 at 10:00am in the Church of St. Peter Claver, 47 Pleasant St., West Hartford. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, those who desire may make a donation in memory of Merritt to the Kingswood-Oxford School, 170 Kingswood Road, West Hartford, CT 06119, Renbrook School, 2865 Albany Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117 or to a charity of your choice. Arrangements are being handled by The Ahern Funeral Homes, Inc., www.ahernfuneralhome.com.
Published in the Hartford Courant JAN 05, 2019