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MERRILEES, REBECCA "BECKY" A., 90
MERRILEES, REBECCA "BECKY" A., 90, left this world on November 14. Becky was residing most recently at Mayo Nursing in Northfield, prior to which, she was a resident at Westview Meadows in Montpelier for many years. Becky lived for most of her adult life in Northfield, and was a true supporter of the community. Becky was born in New York City and raised in Westport, Conn. She grew up in an artistic family. Her father, Ralph L. Boyer, created many large scale murals during the WPA years, and was recognized as an important member of the “Westport School of Art.” Her mother, Rebecca Hunt Boyer, was also an accomplished painter. Becky received her art education at the Boothbay Studios Summer School of Art, American School of Design, Pratt Institute (where she later taught some classes in drawing), and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Becky was a pioneering commercial and fine artist, as well as a self-directed, motivated, intelligent, focused person with an inquisitive mind and keen skills of observation. She was the first woman to have a Readers Digest cover in 1961 and went on to have eight covers, including two for foreign language editions. She illustrated several books for the Time Life Golden series, The Guide to Evolution, The Natural Science Encyclopedia, The Field Guide to Trees of North America, and American Antique Glass to name a few. Becky’s late husband, Douglas Merrilees, was an industrial engineer, instructor, innovative designer, and architect at Pratt Institute and later, Norwich University. Becky was well known for her botanical illustrations, but was equally at home with technical schematics and portraits, as well as still life and landscape works. She worked tirelessly for the causes and local organizations she supported and was an unending source of illustrations for the Northfield Historical Society, Brown Public Library, United Church, restaurants, schools and Norwich University. Her work can be seen throughout Washington County, particularly in Northfield. Becky ran a very popular series of life drawing classes in Northfield from the late 1960’s to the mid-1970’s. She also taught nature drawing and sketching at North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, as well as life drawing master workshops and still life with pastels and other drawing materials at Studio Place Arts in Barre. She painted and drew, and organized art exhibitions at Westview Meadows up until very recently. A 75 Year Retrospective Exhibition of her work was held in September at Studio Place Arts, and she had many requests for private art instruction, classes and mentoring. Becky is survived by her son, David Merrilees, of Winooski; one granddaughter; one great-grandson; several nieces and nephews; as well as cousins, great-nephews and great-nieces and many friends. Becky was predeceased by her husband and parents. There will be a service to honor Becky’s life and memory at 11am on November 29th at the Kingston Funeral Home in Northfield.
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