Dr. Meredith Drench
“Good morning. I am honored to have been asked to talk about Merry Drench and Hadassah. This organization was an important part of Merry's life, and Merry was an important part of Hadassah's.
And today is Memorial Day, so it is really most fitting that this day was chosen to remember and honor her. Because Merry was a real soldier. In fact, when I think of Merry, I picture her in a general's uniform, leading her troops into battle. Maybe it was that Ethel Merman projection. But, you never had to look around the room and ask who was in charge.
When I asked our Hadassh colleagues for their memories of our intrepid Merry, Ellen Masters said, "Merry filled up the room." She also sent a quote from the Talmud:"When the Good Person is in a community, that person is its radiance, its glory and its brilliance." Merry was our brilliance and radiance.
Everybody remarked on her humor, especially recalling her absolutely hysterical "Jewish Jeopardy" games that had us rolling on the floor. Still others, who roomed with her at conferences or conventions, remember conversations – and laughter -- that went late into the night. In fact, Merry and I were supposed to room together in Las Vegas two summers ago. I feel cheated that I didn't get to room with her. And, many of us in the Region remember our summer board meetings in the Berkshires, after which Paula would join us on the lawn at Tanglewood for picnics and beautiful music.
The Hadassah PIF – portfolio information form -- shows Merry's Hadassah job history in Rhode Island: Over the years, she chaired the Hadassah Career Counseling Institute, Hadassah College, and community outreach and programming, before taking on the chapter presidency.But she didn't stop at the chapter level. I have fond memories of meeting Merry for lunch, sometimes in Providence at the Cheesecake Factory or Nordstrom's, sometimes at a little pizza place called Tony's on Route 146, where we would talk Hadassah – and other things -- while I encouraged her – I didn't really have to noodge -- to take on more responsibility for the organization we both loved.
And, boy did she ever. She rose from chairing Hadassah College for the Region, to the organization vice presidency and, ultimately to the presidency of the Western New England Region. Before her term was cut short by her terrible illness, she led with the passion, the humor, and the prodigious intellect that made Merry Merry.
Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, once said, "Dare to dream. And, when you dream, dream big."Although Merry didn't get a chance to fulfill all her dreams, she certainly had plenty of them. Merry dreamt big and demonstrated her love of Hadassah College in a big and generous way, establishing, with Barbara and Dan, an endowment in the speech and communications disorders department. Her gift will allow students to travel to the United States for training in the treatment of aphasia, and bring their knowledge to the only aphasia center in Israel, Hadassah Academic College. Now, Hadassah will honor her legacy by establishing a scholarship in her memory in that department that she loved so much. Merry also taught at both the College and at Hadassah Hospital. Every year she would travel to Israel to share her expertise with students and colleagues.
The following words were written to describe Henrietta Szold. They could just as easily have been written to describe Merry Drench. "Perhaps it was this shadow of history that colored her life—or perhaps it was simply her God-given nature. But either way, she was born a fighter. She dedicated her life to fighting ignorance, injustice, anti-Semitism, and disease. She never stopped fighting the fears and hatreds that divide people and nations. She fought with all her strength to build a better world." The world is a better place for Merry's having been with us. May her memory be for a blessing”.
Western New England Region would like to establish a scholarship in Merry's memory, for students in the Speech and Communications Disorders Department at Hadassah Academic College.
Please send your check, with a note indicating the purpose, to: