For generations of Gilman students, hearing the name Bill Merrick will automatically bring one of his songs to mind. A graduate of Gilman’s Class of 1951, Bill Merrick began teaching at Gilman in 1958, when he was fresh out of Washington and Lee University and two years as a seaman in the Navy. He began teaching in Gilman’s fifth grade but would spend much of his 58-year career at home in the fourth grade. Arguably the “Greatest Lower School Musical Comedy Producer and Director ever,” Merrick is remembered through the musical mnemonic devices that he taught during fourth-grade geography class, armed with his trusty ukulele. Mr. Merrick directed hundreds of students in his annual 4A musicals, which he wrote and directed.
In addition to his music, Mr. Merrick is remembered for being a great role model for both students and his colleagues. As now-retired Lower School Head Leith Hermann wrote back in 2008 to commemorate Mr. Merrick’s 50 years at Gilman, “he exemplifies humility and civility in an era where those qualities are in short supply. He is selfless, deeply caring for others, and a friend to all. Bill Merrick is, in every way, a gentleman. Even after fifty years on the Gilman faculty, Mr. Merrick’s creative flair burns brightly, as does his passion for teaching. Bill’s devotion to his boys and school parallels that of his own role model, Henry Callard. The former headmaster, known for picking up every scrap of litter he found on campus, inspired Bill to perpetuate that example. Mr. Merrick is Gilman’s #1 first-class citizen!”
In 2005, Mr. Merrick won the May Holmes Service Award, which the Gilman Alumni Association awards to a member of the Gilman community who has served in the school in a distinguished and meritorious fashion.