Obituaries

Home: Highland Beach, Florida
Death Date: October 19, 2017
Birthdate: July 23, 1943
Place Of Birth: Staten Island, New York

Kathy Sue Merrill + Enlarge

The world has been cheated by the loss of Kathy Sue Merrill, the most amazing daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. And baker. Her baking skills must be properly acknowledged. 

Born in Staten Island, she was known as Kathy Sue Braine, often called Sue, Suzy or Suzy-Q during her childhood. Much time during her upbringing was spent tormenting her older brother, Robert/Bob Braine (subsequently one of her greatest allies in adulthood), and working at The Betty Brown Shop, a lingerie store owned and run by their mother, Carol.  Kathy graduated from New Dorp High School in 1961.  

After working in Manhattan for a brief period, Kathy determined the glamorous NY secretary role felt more like being a coffee mule for her boss, and she opted to attend Sullens College instead, a 2 year junior college in Bristol, VA. 

Not too long after graduating, Kathy was set up on a blind date with Elliott Merrill. The date was orchestrated by her mother and a family friend -Kathy was less than excited.  As she shared with her best friend Mickey the next morning, "Elliott is different, he's special." They were engaged in just under a year, and married in August 1965. During the early years, Kathy and Elliott lived in Staten Island as well as a year in Atlanta before settling in New Jersey. NJ was not only the location of the birth of their only daughter, Tracie Lynn Merrill, but also the birth of The Somerset Group, an incredibly special group of friends who, based on the statute of limitations, should actually just be labeled "chosen family."  

Kathy brought organization to the world. She worked at AT&T for over 20 years as a computer analyst until she retired in 1999 and then Telcordia until 2004.  She put together fun travel adventures for her family and good friends, including birthday trips with "the girls" and a UK cruise for her and Elliott's 50th wedding anniversary. Kathy and Elliott even spent two summers working at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone, she in phone reservations, and he at the front desk.  

Back in Florida, where most good northerners migrate to retire, Kathy was not one to sit still. She walked every morning for over an hour, and dedicated a generous amount of time to helping Seagate Activities, the social committee in the retirement community where she and Elliott have happily settled over the last 13 years.  She decorated the lobby bulletin board with her creative posters, made chaos into order with her sign-up and payment sheets, and decked the Club House with her clever name-cards and place-cards.  Kathy and Elliott enjoyed countless nights of theatre (favorite shows starring their daughter, of course), enjoyed traveling around the country to visit friends, as well as traveling within their own complex to parties at multiple friends' apartments.  Even more friends were to be made after Kathy and Elliott purchased a second home in Salt Lake City, UT, so they could be close to Tracie, their son-in-law Scott, and their grand-dog, Madison.

For the last two years, Kathy has battled cancer more bravely and with more dignity than can accurately be depicted. Her email updates to friends and family kept everyone close to her and smiling during her journey, despite the seriousness of the topic. In September 2015, Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent two series of chemo, a double mastectomy and radiation over the course of about 9 months.  Seemingly cancer free, life continued as normal for almost another year, until a routine cat scan revealed that the cancer had metastasized to her spine.  Treatment resumed, this time under the guidance of the Huntsmen professionals in Utah.  Kathy had almost no discomfort and other than losing a portion of her usually dense head of hair, did not show any signs of illness.  It was a quick two week turnaround when her body was no longer able to fight the growing cancer, and merely three days after choosing home hospice over further treatments, passed away between two of her best friends, her husband and daughter, surrounded not only by their love, but with the love of all she touched, near and far.

In lieu of flowers, donations to either http://www.gumbolimbo.org or http://huntsmancancer.org would be greatly appreciated. The first gave Kathy Sue joy, and the second gave her hope.

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