Merlin Szasz passes away

It is with great sadness that I write to announce the death of Merlin Szasz, Professor, Foundation Studies, late at night on April 16, 2013. He is survived by his children Eva Szasz, Carl Matthew Szasz, and Noah Szasz, and three grand-daughters. Merlin was predeceased by Carol “Woody” Szasz with whom he enjoyed a happy marriage that spanned half a century.

Merlin was born in Lima, Ohio on October 31, 1936.  He received a B.S. in Education from Bowling Green State University in 1958 and an MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1960. He came to RISD in 1960 to teach as an adjunct faculty member in the Sculpture Department. He became a full-time faculty member in Foundation Studies in 1962. From 1972-75 he served as Associate Dean of the College and as Provost during 1975/76 academic year. He was promoted to Professor in 1976.

Merlin’s oeuvre was exquisitely crafted bronze sculpture.  He was the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award for Sculpture in 1965 and the American Numismatic Association’s Award for Excellence in Medalic Sculpture in 2009. His commissioned work includes commemorative medals for the Albany Medical College and Barnard College, the President’s Chain of Office for Barnard College and for RISD, reliefs for “Our Lady of Good Counsel” (Warwick, RI) and the Providence Performing Arts Center, and sculpture at the Viet Nam Memorial Park in Albany, New York. Examples of his medalic work are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC.

Merlin believed ardently in service to one’s community and this was evidenced in his work on every committee engaged in meaty work at RISD.  He had an eye on the big picture and an analysis of virtually every aspect of the institution. His dedication was borne out as well in his volunteer work in his small town of Foster, Rhode Island where he served on the Fire Department, Ambulance Corps, Library Building Committee, and Planning Board.

Merlin was a larger than life figure at RISD, a colleague, a teacher, mentor, historian and conscience of the College.

We will miss him dearly,
Rosanne Somerson


Foundation Studies, Merlin Szasz, obituary

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