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THE FIRST WIFE OF RICHARD MERRICK
RICHARD MERRICK’S SELF PORTRAIT
When thinking of Richard Merrick’s wife, most people today recall only the universally beloved Mildred Heath Selles, a widow and the respected UM Reference Librarian, whom he wed in 1969, when he was 66 and to whom he was happily married for 17 years until his death in 1986. Not so. Two women bearing the name Mrs. Richard Merrick preceded her.
Emerging artist Merrick had worked for elder brother George in advertising and had lived in New York from 1927 where he lived intermittently, plying his art, but by 1930, he was back in Coral Gables. It was in his hometown where he married Marion Wallace, the 22-year-old daughter of Beatrice Wallace and the late Griffith Wallace of 6704 LeJeune Road, on the evening of October 13, 1932. Marion had attended the University of Miami where she was a member of the Alpha Delta Sorority. Beatrice owned and operated Beatrice Wallace Hostess Bureau. The quiet nuptials took place at 912 Velencia Avenue, the home of Otis Spencer, Justice of the Peace, who performed the ceremony. Spencer’s wife Claire served as matron of honor, while Merrick’s brother-in-law, Edwin G (Ted) Bishop, second husband of his sister Ethel, stood up as best man.
Their marriage lasted only a few years- the childless couple being divorced in Dade County in 1936. Richard would marry a second time in 1949, but that’s a story for another article.