Robert Dennis Merken



Robert Dennis Merken

Robert Dennis Merken of Beverly died at home on April 2, 2018, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia. He was 59.

Born with Down syndrome in Lynn on December 20, 1958, he was the son of Elaine D. Merken of Peabody and the late Henry Merken. From a young age, he lived at the Walter E. Fernald State School in Waltham, followed by two group residences in Lynn and his late residence in Beverly; all were run by Bridgewell. Memorable caregivers and day-program staff include John Taylor, Justin Devoe, Donna Lucier, Justine Rudgis, Elis Rosario, and Christine Sepulveda.

Robert worked at Morgan Memorial in Beverly from 1979 to 1986, and then at the Lynn Work Activity Center Day Program on Woodman Street, eventually working at Bridgewell’s Boston Street Day Program, from which he retired earlier this year.

Known as a man of strong will who knew what he wanted, Robert enjoyed musicals, including “Grease” and “High School Musical.” He also loved animals. Those who worked with him appreciated and remarked upon his big personality and spirited nature.

In addition to his mother, Robert is survived by his brothers and their wives: Howard and Casandra Merken of Elyria, Ohio (Benjamin, Chayim, and Tuvia); Gary Merken and Laurie Rogers of Rosemont, PA (Christopher and Katie); and Andrew and Gail Merken of Needham (Sara, Nicole, and Danielle), and numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles. In addition to his father, he was predeceased by his grandparents the late Harry and Annie Merken of Peabody, and the late Ruth and Maurice Dinerman of Marblehead.

A funeral service will be held at Congregation Shirat Hayam on April 8, with burial at Maple Hill Cemetery in Peabody.

Donations in Robert’s memory may be made to Bridgewell, which provides services to individuals with developmental, psychiatric, and physical disabilities, including day habilitation, clinical care, employment training, residential services, and educational programs. Mailing address: Bridgewell, Development & Advancement Office, Attn: Robert Merken Music Therapy Fund, 10 Dearborn Road, Peabody, MA 01960 (, designating “Robert Merken Music Therapy” in the “Other” line. For more information or to register in the online guestbook, visit

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