Charles Merrill’s Journey Through Life

Charlesa Merrilla podróż przez życie

The exhibition “Charles Merrill’s journey through life” was organized as a tribute to the incredible work and wonderful personality of this great man who left us recently. It allowed the viewers to follow the story of his life and also see the memorabilia, personal trinkets, correspondence, documents, paintings and books that he left, preapred and shared by his wife, Mrs Julie Boudreaux.

Charles Merrill Jr. (1920 – 2017) was a teacher, a writer and a philanthropist. He was a son of Charles E. Merrill, co-founder of the American Merrill Lynch company. In 1939 he traveled through Europe, visiting Poland among others, that made an indelible impression on him, exciting his sympathy and interest. After that he came back many times. He took part in World War II, first in the Canadian then in American armies; he fought in North Africa and in Italy, where he met a 13-year old Holocaust survivor, Bernat Rosner, whom he took care of, helped him get to America and accepted like a son in his own family. Charles Merrill studied history at Harvard, became a teacher and using family fortune founded educational institutions, incl. co-founding. Thomas Jefferson School in Saint Louis (TJ) in 1946, and in 1958 he founded the Commonwealth School in Boston with Warsaw Mermaid as a crest. He supported financially many important schools like Morehouse College – first facillity for African Americans –and Spellman College, a school for African American girls. His concern for education didn’t end with American border – as he also supported the Palacki University in Olomouc, Czech Republic or Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. He was a great sympathizer of Poland and Poles, he was fascinated by Polish history and involved in its modernity. He financially supported the Literary Institute, a publishing house founded and directed by Jerzy Giedroyc, which published the “Culture” monthly magazine and numerous smaller organizations, schools and youth groups. The list of his Polish beneficiaries is long, to mention just a few: Batory Foundation, Otwarta Rzeczypospolita, OKO Press, Hejt STOP, Midrasz, Nomina Rosae. Charles Merrill was actively involved for democracy and culture of peace, supporting education and culture, particularily in the countries of former eastern block. He used to say that “democracy begins with being active in the community we find ourselves in”. He spend his last years in Nowy Sącz, choosing this town as his second home.

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