<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Richard L Merritt: Obituary
Richard L Merritt
(August 8, 1933 - November 19, 2005)


Richard L. Merritt, 72, Emeritus Research Professor in Communications and Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, died on Saturday, November 19, 2005, at Carle Foundation Hospital. He had suffered from Parkinson’s for several years and fell at his home a week before his death. In lieu of a memorial service, the family invites friends and former colleagues to join them on Saturday, January 14, 2006, from 3:00 to 5:00 in the foyer of the Tryon Festival Theater at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to enjoy a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate in his memory. Memorials may be made to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; WILL AM-FM-TV; or the National Parkinson Foundation.

Mr. Merritt was born on August 8, 1933, in Portland, Oregon, the son of Raymond and Sarah Cook Merritt. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was just two years old and he always considered LA his hometown. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1955 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California, he studied at the University of Virginia, the Free University of Berlin, and then Yale University, where he studied and worked with Karl Deutsch and received his doctorate in 1962.

Professor Merritt taught at Yale University for several years and came to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967, where he had a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and the Institute of Communications Research and served as head of the Department of Political Science from 1978 to 1984. In 1976 he was visiting professor at the Free University of Berlin, where he had earlier (1966-67) been Fulbright research professor. He was a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Comparative Social Research, Science Center Berlin in 1979-81; visiting professor at Rhodes University, South Africa in 1991, and in 1992-93 Fulbright research professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He lectured (in English and German) at major universities and government institutions on five continents.

Professor Merritt served as vice-president both of the International Studies Association (1979-80) and the International Political Science Association (1979-82), and chaired the Conference Group on German Politics (1986-88). He organized the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association (1970) and International Studies Association (1973) as well as the triennial world congress in Moscow of the International Political Science Association (1979). He served on a dozen editorial boards of professional journals and consulted for the United Nations and government agencies and educational institutions in the United States and West Germany.

He authored, co-authored, or edited over two dozen books including Symbols of American Community (1966), Public Opinion in Occupied Germany (1970), Berlin Between Two Worlds (1986), and Communication and Interaction in Global Politics (1987). In 1995 Yale University Press published his Democracy Imposed: U.S. Occupation Policy and the German Public, 1945-1949. He also contributed more than 100 articles and 50 reviews to scholarly journals and books.

Richard (Dick) Merritt loved movies and was a co-founder in the early seventies of the local Film Society. He was also a passionate bicyclist, helped organize the Prairie Cycle Club in the mid-seventies, and participated in numerous “century rides.” He enjoyed classical music, good food, dark chocolate, and never met a cat with whom he couldn’t communicate.

Dick is survived by his wife, Anna Johanna Gode-von Aesch Merritt, whom he met when both were in Berlin as Fulbright students and with whom he co-authored and co-edited a number of books and articles; they were married on August 9, 1958, in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Survivors also include three children, Christopher (San Diego, CA), Geoffrey (Urbana, IL), and Theodore (Urbana, IL), as well as a granddaughter, Annaliesa (born in June 2005), grandson Carter Huff, and two brothers, Col. Raymond James Merritt, USAF/ret. (Marysville, CA), and John Merritt (Berkeley, CA).

(click here to see a scan of the obituary from the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette)
(click here to read a memorial by Edward Kolodziej for the American Polical Science Association)
(back to main page)