Susan LeRoy Merrill
June 4, 1942 – October 24, 2017
I share with you the passing of Susan LeRoy Merrill, artist, author, vibrant spirit, and mother of trustee Daisy Rockwell. Susan is also survived and cherished by beloved husband Carl Sprague, son Ruslan and daughter Elena, son-in-law, Aaron, granddaughter Serafina, and Rockwell family members. Susan taught us so very much about living, with joy and panache, about dying with dignity and gratitude for a life fully lived, and about letting go with grace. She created her last days this summer as she wished to live, painting, surrounded by friends, family and her beloved Corgis. Her art brought much joy and taught us to look at the natural world around us, the world of animals, and even bugs! Her children’s book, I Live in Stockbridge, still available through the Museum, is a personal walk through a town she loved and where she raised her family. There are many chapters to share about Susan’s life, but none is more beautiful than the eulogy her daughter Daisy wrote below. Our hearts go out to Daisy, Carl, all of Susan’s family and many friends.
~ Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director/CEO, Norman Rockwell Museum
“When my mother called me in early June and told me she’d been diagnosed with a glioblastoma and only had three months to live, she immediately launched into a description of her plans for her remaining days: most notably, she must complete a series of 12 small paintings of bugs beneficial to gardeners before she died. The tumor had started in the communication section of her brain, but did not affect her ability to paint until the end, and she was able to complete her paintings in record time. As her usual exceptional communication abilities began to deteriorate over the summer, she taught us many precious lessons about embracing life and accepting death. It was a summer of charades, drawings, diagrams and laughter over the amazing-sounding unrecognizable words and sounds that came out of her mouth. Only at the end, when she could no longer write or draw, and nearly all her words were unrecognizable, did she show signs of frustration and sadness. The end came mercifully swiftly, and she died last night in her favorite room of her favorite house, surrounded by beloved humans and corgis in a shower of Bach by a roaring fire. We will all carry with us her color, her humor, her word play and her way of re-inventing the world through the power of creative imagination.
Some of her paintings and prints of her bug series are available at her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/SusanMerrillPainting. Funds raised will help defray medical and other costs accumulated by her household during this difficult period.” ~ Daisy Rockwell