To the editor:
If there ever was a true measure of a man, it is the footprint he leaves on the lives he touches. With his untimely passing this weekend, Dr. David Merkel left giant footprints on the lives of the patients he treated, on the colleagues he practiced with, on the hospital staff he worked with and on the community he loved.
David was the third generation of his family to pursue a career in medicine. Upon graduating from Saranac Lake High School and Hamilton College, he followed in his father's footsteps, earning a medical degree from McGill University. Upon completion of medical school and training, he returned to his hometown and joined his father's practice, now known as Adirondack Surgical Group. Trained in general and thoracic surgery, he joined Adirondack Medical Center's medical staff in 1969 and was an active member until his passing. When recognized with the Medical Center's Distinguished Service Award, he noted that he enjoyed his medical career in the Tri-Lakes as it afforded him with a variety of practice and surgical experiences that surgeons in urban areas don't have due to their more specialized practices. He also stated that getting to really know his patients, not only their medical conditions but the personal aspect of their lives, was very important and gratifying to him.
A man with great heart and vision, he was a leader of AMC's Medical Staff, having served as its president and, for many years, the Medical Center's chief of surgery. Dr. Merkel was also a member of the Medical Center's Board of Trustees and was instrumental in developing AMC into the medical center it is today. Recently, he played an integral part in establishing AMC's bariatric surgery program and continued to provide medical expertise to that service until his passing. Long interested in end-of-life and palliative care, he and his wife Ann were deeply involved in the creation of High Peaks Hospice in 1986, which has provided countless area families with compassionate and dignified support when facing a terminal illness.
When his medical colleagues, co-workers, patients and friends have shared their thoughts about Dr. Merkel, the words skilled, respected, kind, compassionate and gentle were the most often stated remembrances. We at Adirondack Medical Center were so fortunate to have this giant of a man walk among us as our colleague and friend. C. David Merkel, M.D., we will hold you and your legacy in our hearts forever.
Chandler Ralph, CEO