Judith Clason Merrill

SCARBOROUGH – Judith Clason Merrill, 85, of Portland, passed away peacefully at Gosnell Memorial House Hospice on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, with her devoted daughter by her side. Her last days were filled with words of love, appreciation, affection, dignity, and respect in a beautiful setting.

Judith was born in Portland, the daughter of George Elmer Thomas and Dorothy Beatrice Clason. She graduated from Deering High School in 1956, attended Colby College for two years, then graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern Maine with a B.A. in French in 1983. She furthered her study of French at the Alliance Francaise in Paris and loved the language throughout her life. Judith later attended the University of Connecticut for two years in a PhD program in contemporary literature with special focus on the novella.

After leaving Colby College, Judith was hired by the Portland Press Herald, Evening Express, and Maine Sunday Telegram as a society editor and reporter. She also created “Teenage Express’d,” a weekly column in the Evening Express for which she was the editor. Each high school in the Greater Portland area had its own reporter. She was later employed in the foreign language lab and bookstore at the University of Southern Maine on the Portland campus, where she was committed to enriching the lives of students. In the later years of her career, she worked in advertising at The Forecaster from which she retired.

Judith loved studying foreign languages with French being her passion. Paris was the home of her heart. Over four decades, Judith enjoyed many trips to Paris alone and with her daughter. She always stayed in the area of Montparnasse known for its artists and writers. Her favorite arrondissements were the fourteenth, sixth and fifth, where she would frequent favorite cafes after long strolls in the city and along the Seine, linger in her beloved bookstores, and attend exhibitions and theatrical performances. She also loved get-away trips to New York City, N.Y. to see Broadway shows, hear live jazz, and relax over picnics in Central Park. She loved the outdoors, soaking up sun on the beach, practicing martial arts, and hiking in Maine and New Hampshire.

Judith will be remembered as a Francophile and admired for her dedication to daily walking to stay fit, especially on the Portland Peninsula during the last decade of her life. She thrived on her independence. At home, she was an expert at doing crossword puzzles, an activity that brought back fond memories with her father during childhood.

Judith was predeceased by her husband, Charles Harold Merrill, Jr., of South Portland, who retired from the Portland Press Herald and had achieved the rank of chief photographer.

Judith is survived by her daughter Stephanie Lomond Merrill of Portland, who was her caregiver for many years, and her son, Thomas Fraser Merrill of Pinehurst, N.C. She was very proud of her children’s accomplishments and loved them both dearly.

A private service will be held in the fall.

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