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George Merritt Memorial Service Set for Feb. 23 in NYC

George Robert Merritt, Jr. of Hawthorne, N.J. passed into eternal life on Monday, February 15, 2010 at the age of 67.

He leaves behind his devoted wife, Bobbie, of 18 years of marriage, his beloved step-daughter and son-in-law, Jodi and Andrew of NY, his pride and joy grandchildren, Joshua, Olivia and Paris, 5 loving God-children, Kristen, Natlalie, Ricki, Anna and Josiah, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was the son of Mary Hawes of Ct., the brother of Philip, Henry, Rachel, Natalea, Roderick, Ralph, Sue, Patti and Tom. He was pre-deceased by his brothers, Andy and Ken.

A Celebration Service will be held on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 7:00 PM at: Calvary Baptist Church, 123 West 57th St., New York City, N.Y.

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to any of the following favorite charities: HOPE FOR NEW YORK, MIDTOWN PREGNANCY SUPPORT CENTER, FREEDOM ALLIANCE, WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT; NEABPD (NATIONAL EDUCATION ALLIANCE FOR BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER); THE GEORGE MERRIT MEMORIAL FUND OR CHARITY OF CHOICE.

A Drama Desk Award nominee, George enjoyed a distinguished career as one of America's finest theatrical baritones.

He originated the lead role of "John Utterson" in the original Broadway company of the hit musical, Jekyll & Hyde; and in the full length DVD, Jekyll and Hyde The Movie with David Hasselhoff. TV Guide called his work "phenomenal." Born in Raleigh, N.C., he returned to his Southern roots via Broadway starring as "Jim" in the Tony Award winning musical Big River. His portrayal of "Stephen Kumalo" in Lost in the Stars won a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actor. Other leading Broadway roles include: "Crown" in the Houston Grand Opera and Radio City Music Hall productions of Porgy and Bess, and "Ken" in the London and Broadway productions of Ain't Misbehavin'. He also created the role of "Tonton" in Once on This Island.

By invitation of President Ronald Reagan, George was honored to performed as a guest soloist, with The Manhattan Transfer, Marvin Hamlisch and Sarah Vaughn, in The White House tribute to George and Ira Gershwin, which aired nationally on PBS. With his wife Bobbie, he co-produced OH! THOSE VOICES! whose concert tour premiered with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and performed across the U.S. (www.ohthosevoices.com).

With national symphony orchestras George performed THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK. With Jon Werking, he performed "COMPOSER OF MY SOUL - A musical conversation" , which celebrated their 20+ year friendship, their vast catalog of musical styles and their passion for using their gifts to glorify God. Leading operatic roles include The Marriage of Figaro, Don Pasquale, Il Tabaro, Treemonisha, Gianni Schicchi and the Premier of the Gettysburg Cantata. Regionally, he performed numerous roles, including "Hoke" in Driving Miss Daisy with award winning actresses, Ronnie Clare Edwards, Eileen Heckert and Sandy Duncan.

He has also appeared in numerous commercials and in film and on a number of television shows. He has recently added Professor and Director to his many credits. He was a member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NY, where he served on the Diaconate and often shared his musical gifts in ministry. A graduate of the University of Hartford's Hartt College, George taught public school music and drama until he enlisted in the USAF. George was a featured soloist in the prestigious Singing Sergeants performing with the USAF Band, in over 100 cities worldwide.

With his wife, George co-founded FOOTPRINTS - A MINISTRY for PEOPLE WITH AIDS, which assisted more than 2,000 AIDS patients and trained more than 500 volunteers. He also frequently performed at concerts which benefit childrens' causes.

His kind, gentle, loving spirit and guilelessness, in spite of his great talent, made him a rare jewel on this earth. Without exception, he was a blessing and an inspiration to everyone whose life he touched.


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