Town mourns loss of 'Mr. Rowley'    

Gordon Robert Merry 

ROWLEY — Robert Merry wore many hats in town, but he never found any task too big or too small to tackle.

Town Administrator Deborah Eagan remembers working alongside Merry when he was a selectman.

“It was an honor for me to work under his leadership on the Board of Selectmen,” Eagan said. “He approached everything with his full attention, whether it was preparing for Town Meeting or fixing a light fixture at Town Hall. There was never a task that was either too big or too small for Bob to take on. He was a kind, caring and humble person; he was a true gentleman. I will miss him.”

Gordon Robert J. Merry, or “Bob” as he was known, was a lifelong Rowley resident and dedicated town official who earned the title “Mr. Rowley.” He died March 14 at age 75.

Merry was committed to the town, beginning his service in 1968 as an auxiliary police officer.

Through the years, he held positions with more than 30 town offices, committees and commissions. They included forest fire warden, Rowley Emergency Management Agency, captain of the Rowley volunteer firefighters, Bradstreet Land Use Committee and the DPW consolidation committee.

In 1999, he retired from the Rowley Municipal Light Department after 40 years and then went on to take seats on the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Light Commissioners. 

“Bob was truly ‘Mr. Rowley,’” said fellow Selectman Robert Snow, when speaking of all the positions he held in town. Merry is especially remembered for his exemplary recall of town history and his knowledge about everything Rowley.

“I remember we had a problem one time with a boundary line within the town and Bob painstakingly went through the town reports for weeks until he found, as I remember, a 1741 annual Town Meeting that the information proving the boundary a stone wall existed,” Snow said.

In 2002, Merry co-authored “Images of America: Rowley” with fellow Rowley Historical Society members Edward DesJardins and Doris Fryeberg. And Merry was a regular visitor to the Pine Grove School to help with the students’ annual Rowley history project.

Other residents, like Marcia (Mehaffey) Farina, were grateful for Merry’s role at the Light Department and for knowing Merry and his family their whole lives.

“Bob was the reason why our electric bills in Rowley were the lowest in the state of Massachusetts for many years,” Farina said in her Facebook post on Rowley Talks, where dozen of people remembered Merry with kind words and fond memories. 

Dave Petersen, who shared time with Merry on the Board of Selectmen and the Cemetery Commission, had many special memories of a man who worked tirelessly to help others. “He’d give you the shirt off his back. He really loved Rowley. This is a great loss for the town.”

Because of concerns over the spread of coronavirus, the services for Merry on Friday were a “moving procession” and funeral services were private. Read more at

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