As members of the Board of the Alumnae Association of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, we have more precious memories of Merrill than we can list here. Merrill was an active, contributing member of our Board for multiple terms, eventually serving as President and remaining active as First Vice President. Our leadership skills were sharpened by her mentorship and friendship as Merrill contributed to our most important initiatives. She remained active through health challenges in an heroic battle with cancer. Richly inspired by her courage, we mourn her loss.
On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Merrill Hakim passed away at the age of 73, after a courageous 6 year battle with lung cancer. She was a loving wife of 39 years to Nial McInerney; mother to Liora Hakim Kirby (Steve Katona), and doting grandmother to Dylan, Ashlyn, Joshua and Samantha. She also leaves sister Susan Sommovilla (John Fisher) and a large extended family.
The daughter of Arthur and Bernice (Shambelan Smith) Dyshel, Merrill was born and raised in Philadelphia and Cheltenham. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, and went on to a distinguished career as a teacher of French, Hebrew and Italian at Central High School. She served for many years on the Board of the Alumnae Association of Girls’ High School of Philadelphia, and was a member of Alliance Francaise.
Her Memorial Service was held at Joseph Leving & Sons Memorial Chapel on Friday, November 9, at 11 A.M. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society, or a charity of your choice.
A Letter from Merrill’s Family
To the Board of Directors of the Alumnae Association of The Philadelphia High School for Girls—
On behalf of the whole family and friends of my sister Merrill Dyshel Hakim, we want to thank you for the beautiful flower arrangement that you sent for Merrill’s funeral service.
Like Merrill, it was quite beautiful, and I wonder if you knew that yellow was one of her favorite colors. We brought it after the service to her yellow kitchen where it is gracing the center of the table, so that her husband Nial and her stepchildren can still enjoy it for a while.
I did not get to attend Girls’ High with Merrill, since my parents moved us to Cheltenham, but she certainly maintained the strongest of attachments to your wonderful institution. That attachment brought her untold blessings.
So thank you again for all you have given Merrill and for remembering all that she has given to you.
Susie Dyshel Sommovilla