My middle name, Merriam, comes from two old friends of my family, Ida and Mylan Merriam. Mylan, a cartographer and intriguing and eccentric character, died while I was in high school, in the early '80s. Ida died recently, her obituary below appeared in the Washington Post.
One can't say, however, that Ida Merriam lived anything less than a full life, accomplishing much, travelling everywhere, and remaining sharp to the end. One of the things I treasure most about having known her is that she demonstrated that it was O.K. to be an adult (or even old) and still be liberal, believing that the government can, in fact, do things to make the world a better place.
Ida Merriam Dies at 92
Social Security Official
Ida Craven Merriam, 92, a retired assistant commissioner for research and statistics of the Social Security Administration, died of pneumonia April 8 at Prince George's Hospital Center. She lived in Mitchellville.
Dr. Merriam, a Philadelphia native, lived in Washington from 1936 until entering the Collington Episcopal Life Care Center in Mitchellville three years ago.
She began working in Social Security in 1936, when she joined what became the Social Security Administration's research and statistics bureau. She rose to become head of the bureau's division of coordination studies, then became assistant director of the research and statistics bureau in 1947.
Dr. Merriam became director of what had become the research and statistics division in 1955, then served as assistant commissioner from 1955 until retiring in 1972. She was a consultant to the commissioner until 1976.
During her years at Social Security, she led groundbreaking studies on disability and health insurance, drafted major reports for congressional committees, directed the publication of Social Security technical studies and statistics, and was a member of a technical assistance mission to Thailand.
Dr. Merriam was one of six winners of the 1966 Federal Woman's Award. She also had received the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's Distinguished Service Award and was named a fellow of the American Statistical Association.
She had served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Human Resources and the Journal of Social Policy.
Dr. Merriam was a 1925 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley University, where she majored in English and history. After studying economics at the University of Chicago, she transferred to the old Brookings Graduate School of Economics and Government in Washington. She received an economics doctorate from Brookings in 1928.
After that, she served on the editorial staff of the Encyclopedia of Social Sciences in New York and was an assistant economics professor at Connecticut College for Women.
Her husband, Mylon Merriam, whom she married in 1933, died in the mid-1980s. She leaves no immediate survivors.
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