Albert Merck was born into wealth, which he shared through philanthropic gifts that reflected what he most believed in: improving education through teacher training.
Mr. Merck, who moved to Massachusetts with his wife in 1998 to be closer to his children and grandchildren, died of congestive heart failure July 22 in his Lexington home.
He was 93 and had lived most of his life in New Jersey, where his family’s company was headquartered and where he was elected to the State Assembly in 1971.
An heir to the Merck pharmaceuticals fortune, Mr. Merck donated generously to Harvard University, his alma mater, and to Bennington College in Vermont, the alma mater of his wife, Kate.
Born in 1920, Albert Wall Merck grew up in West Orange, N.J., and New York City. He graduated from St. George’s School in Rhode Island in 1939 and enrolled at Harvard, where he took time off from his studies to serve during World War II as a first lieutenant in field artillery operations in the Pacific theater.
After the war, he met Katharine Evarts at a dance in New York City.
They married in 1946 in her hometown of Kent, Conn., and settled in Arlington so that Mr. Merck could complete his studies at Harvard.
They moved to New Jersey when he began working at Merck & Co., the pharmaceuticals giant his grandfather launched in the late 1800s. Mr. Merck returned to school in the 1960s, graduating with master’s degrees in education from Columbia and Rutgers universities.
While continuing to serve on the board of his family’s company, Mr. Merck turned his attention to politics.
During his successful campaign for a New Jersey State Assembly seat, Mr. Merck’s children handed out leaflets at commuter train stations.
In addition to his wife Kate and son Wilhelm he leaves another son, Albert, of California; two daughters, Anne Friedrike of Bearsville, N.Y., and Patience Chamberlain of Exeter, N.H.; two half-sisters, Serena Hatch of Boston and Judith Buechner of Pawlet, Vt.; eight grand- children; and four great-grandchildren.more » « less