Monthly Archives: September 2011

Architect Mary Merz, Dead At 85, Deeply Valued Nature

Mary Ellen Merz. Courtesy of Joe Merz.

Mary Ellen Merz of Brooklyn Heights, who died Sept. 15 of cancer, is described as having wanted to be defined more by her deep affinity with nature than by her accomplishments as an architect, which included a revitalization of her Willowtown neighborhood together with her husband and fellow architect Joe Merz.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1926 to Leo and Isabel Linberger, she was early influenced by her father’s work as a builder and her mother’s great interest and involvement in the world of music and the arts.

Mary often recounted visiting a job site at the age of five with her father and volunteering to sweep the wood chips from the floor. The experience of being in that newly constructed space and seeing the bones of the structure, the tools of the trade around her, the smell of sawdust and fresh cement, would mark the beginning of a long devotion to design and architecture.

Continue reading


1 Comment

Filed under Brooklyn People, Obituaries

Two Times 80

Courtesy Lynn Douglas

Moira Matthews (right) and her twin sister Patsy Averill join in blowing out two candles at their 80th birthday party Sunday. It was held in the Willow Street rear garden of Ms. Matthews’ daughter Lynn Douglass, with many Heights neighbors in attendance. The two sisters grew up at 200 Hicks Street.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn People

A Therapist and 9/11 Firefighters


By Trudy Whitman
Hills & Gardens

Just how exactly we therapists managed to reach beyond our couches, answering machines and tissue boxes and how those firemen reached beyond their ladders, axes and fire trucks to find each other around a kitchen table will remain forever a mystery. But when the impossible happens, anything becomes possible.

—Elizabeth Goren, Beyond the Reach of Ladders

Dr. Elizabeth Goren cannot be accused of living an unexamined life. The long-time Cobble Hill resident, a practicing clinical psychologist for 40 years, has just published a book about her work with a group of firefighters after 9/11. But unlike many professional psychological accounts, Goren does not remove herself from the painful journey. The story is as much about her clawing her way back to functionality and a modicum of belief in humankind as it is about the men she counseled. It is about, the psychologist writes, pushing through the “psychic contamination” and “defiled innocence” resulting from a “…medieval mentality merged with modern technology to catapult jumbo jets into the fortress of the American Empire.”

Beyond the Reach of Ladders, My story as a therapist forging bonds with firefighters in the aftermath of 9/11 (Open Gate Press), comes out at a time — the tenth anniversary of the disaster — when many of us — willingly or forced to by the round-the-clock media blitz — are reevaluating how the terrorist attack on the U.S. has changed our lives.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Brooklyn Authors, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn People

A Newsman’s Life

HARD WORKER: Former Brooklyn Heights resident Warren Phillips, seen typing away at Tokyo’s Narita airport, is the author of Newspaperman, an account of his life at The Wall Street Journal that is reviewed at left. Photo from Newspaperman by Warren Phillips (McGraw-Hill) .

Most newspaper people are convinced they have the most interesting profession. They love to tell anecdotes. But when they write books about their careers, these are often not as interesting as the life they remember or the stories they have covered. To organize all the material a book requires, and to keep it fresh, is hard. Warren H. Phillips, who has been a reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and CEO of a great newspaper and its parent company, has tackled the challenge in Newspaperman: Inside the News Business at The Wall Street Journal (McGraw-Hill, $30).

Phillips, who lived for some time in Brooklyn Heights, comes across in the book as an earnest and unpretentious fellow who has set out to provide all the names and details, but without supplying enough analytic insights or color to make the story more compelling. We learn he was “a skinny, timid, unathletic Jewish kid from Queens” who was smart enough to skip several semesters and to graduate from high school at 14, but who somehow, even after a “postgraduate” year to develop more maturity, failed to get into any of the better colleges he applied to. He passes over that failure without wondering why. In the rather cursory telling of his childhood and teen years, he barely hints at the inner anxieties he undoubtedly experienced.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Brooklyn Authors, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn People

Religion Newsmakers Pastor Dyson to Be Honored For Ministry of Social Justice

Francesca Norsen Tate
First Estate

The Rev. David Dyson will retire after 18 years of leading the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and its social justice programs. Photo courtesy of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.

The Reverend David Dyson, for 18 years the widely-respected pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (LAPC) in Fort Greene, will be honored this Sunday as he retires from this role. Pastor Dyson and LAPC have long advocated for, and protected the rights of, persons in their communities.

City Councilmember Letitia James is a leading organizer of the Community Tribute to Pastor Dyson, along with the Pratt Area Community Council, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Pastor Dyson’s background is also in faith and social justice. He was graduated in 1972 from the University of Pittsburgh with a joint Master’s in Public Administration),

After completing his program with the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Dyson worked for several years as a boycott coordinator for the United Farm Workers, and as a driver and bodyguard for Cesar Chavez. Chavez then sent Dyson to New York City to direct a UFW campaign. Dyson eventually worked for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers as the National Field Director of the JP Stevens textile boycott.

He has since worked for civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, labor rights, affordable housing and community service.

Rev. Dyson has also served as the interim pastor of the Tremont Avenue Presbyterian Church in the Bronx, the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, and as the executive minister of the Riverside Church in New York City.

Sunday’s tribute, featuring music, performances and other special presentations, takes place at the Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford St., in Fort Greene. For more information, call 718-522-2613, ext. 22.

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

NBA Team Will Be Called Brooklyn Nets, JAY-Z Announces

Jay-Z with students from his Brooklyn alma mater, George Westinghouse High School, on Monday morning at Barclays Center. He announced the team will be known as the Brooklyn Nets when they make their move to the borough. Photo by Ranaan Geberer.

Brooklyn-born rapper Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter announced Monday morning that Brooklyn’s future NBA franchise has chosen Brooklyn Nets as the team’s name.

JAY-Z, who owns a small percentage of the Nets basketball franchise, also announced that he will be the first performer to play the Barclays Center when the venue opens in September 2012.

“From the moment the Barclays Center became a reality, I knew this meant something significant for Brooklyn,” said JAY-Z. “This is where I’m from, I’ll always be Brooklyn, and opening this arena will mean more to me than anywhere else. I also look forward to opening night for the Brooklyn Nets. We’re going to create an atmosphere like only Brooklyn can.”

The announcement was made at the Barclays Center construction site, where JAY-Z welcomed 25 students to the event from his alma mater, George Westinghouse High School, which is located one mile from the Barclays Center site.

Also present were Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Chairman Bruce Ratner and Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

Leave a comment

Filed under Community News, Sports