by Tom Walogorsky | Staff Writer
This month, the Pawling community is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved citizens. A former Dutchess County Historian and active participant in local government serving in various positions on the Village Board, the Board of Education, and as Deputy Mayor, Stan Mersand lived a life dedicated to service.
Born on September 22, 1946, Stanley Howard Mersand was a lifelong resident of Pawling. He attended Pawling High School, graduating in 1964. Friends remember him as a baseball enthusiast and avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Following high school, he briefly attended Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, where he played football and studied history until he was drafted into the United States Army. His education would continue after military service at Dutchess Community College and Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus.
Mr. Mersand entered the U.S. Army on June 4, 1968. After training, he was sent to Vietnam. While there, he served as a forward observer as part of the Field Artillery Intelligence division. During his service to our country, Mr. Mersand received numerous honors, including the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, a U.S. Army Commendation Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Good Conduct Medal. He was also given recognition from New York State for his service, receiving the Conspicuous Service Star and the Medal for Merit with Silver Shield. In 2016, he was inducted into the Veteran’s Hall of Fame for the 40th Senate District of New York.
Following military service, Stan Mersand channeled his passion for history into a career in education that spanned more than three decades. He spent thirty years as a history teacher at Carmel High School. This was followed by stints as an adjunct history professor at Marist College, Dutchess Community College, Ulster Community College, and Western Connecticut State University. During his time at Marist, Mr. Mersand was also awarded Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year, and Professor of the Year for the School of Liberal Arts. He also served for a number of years as Summer School Principal for the Wallkill Central School District. He was a devoted member of the Danforth Associates and the “Heart Gang,” a support group of cardiac patients in the Poughkeepsie area.
Mr. Mersand would eventually purchase the house in which he grew up to raise his own family in Pawling. He is survived by his wife, Christine, children Michael and Rebecca, and a brother, Barry, of Poughquag. Mr. Mersand was not only highly dedicated to the Pawling community, but to Dutchess County as well. He was appointed County Historian in January 2006, the first person to serve in this position in 15 years. In this role, he would maintain records of local history and serve as liaison to historians at the state level.
In addition to his roles in local and county government, Mr. Mersand was also responsible for operating Pawling’s Dewey Center. This historical site showcases Mersand’s personal collection of historical items and memorabilia related to former New York Governor and presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey. Amassed over more than 50 years, the collection housed by the museum features the second largest archive of Dewey artifacts in existence, including rare photos taken of the governor in Pawling during his campaign for president.
As the flags flew at half-mast across Dutchess County this June, the loss of Stan Mersand reminds us of what a truly important member of the community he was. He touched countless lives and will be missed by family, friends, former students, and the community as a whole. Dutchess County Legislator and former Village Mayor John Thomes remembers Mr. Mersand with affection and admiration. “He was a good friend, with a great sense of humor. Our two sons became friends, so I guess history repeats itself. I’ll always remember our time together. He believed in his family, and he believed in this country. I’ll miss him,” Mr. Thomes said.