To the editor:
Today the word "hero" tends to be overused, but I would like to talk about a man who was a true hero in our community - Dr. David Merkel. Quietly and humbly, he set out to make a difference many years ago. He did this without hubris or the need for a pat on the back but because it was the right thing to do - to help people. And help he did. All you need to do is ask the hundreds of people he guided at St. Joseph's Rehabilitation or those at the Bariatric Clinic at AMC. This list could go on and on, but our purpose in writing today is more personal.
Twenty-six years ago, recognizing the great need for a different, more personalized, broader and more patient-driven approach to end-of-life care, David and his wonderful, equally committed wife Ann founded High Peaks Hospice. The words "thank you" do not even begin to convey the depth of our appreciation to both David and Ann.
Once the agency was up and running, David's commitment did not end. He continued to be the agency's medical director through all of those 26 years. He was also a mentor and friend to staff, volunteers and the thousands of patients and families. He was the wise patriarch of the High Peaks Hospice family. His loss has been, and will continue to be, keenly felt by all whose lives he touched, and we will miss him.
Darsie Townsend, director of development, and the The High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care family