Merilyn G. Bambauer P’93,’96
Merilyn Bambauer with her son Jeffrey ’96 at the 2011 “Celebrating Our Pioneer Spirit” Gala.
Born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Merilyn Gray Bambauer was raised in Westwood, Massachusetts, where her father, Richard Gray, served as principal of Westwood High School and her mother, Ruby Gray, was a first grade teacher. The Gray family emphasized the importance of education which influenced Merilyn’s pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and licensure as a social worker. Merilyn attributes her attraction to volunteerism to the strong example set by her mother.
Instilling in her sons Derek ’93 and Jeffrey ’96 the passion for education she inherited from her father, Merilyn was deeply committed to raising her boys and enhancing the schools they attended. However, Merilyn did not expend time and effort to merely benefit her own children; she wanted to make things better for the community at large. During her years as a Saint John’s parent, Merilyn’s key focus was the school’s educational mission. It was her belief that all young men could find a unique place at Saint John’s, whether in the arts, academics, or athletics.
As a resolute crusader for Saint John’s, Merilyn participated in auctions, teas, and telethon fundraisers. She was also involved with bringing the Ryken Center to completion by initially participating in the organization of the Centennial Fund. She saw her years on the school’s Board of Trustees as a chance to increase the involvement of women at Saint John’s. This included increasing the number of women on the faculty and giving women opportunities to contribute to the school more significantly. Merilyn felt that Saint John’s would be a better school for having the knowledge, experience, and viewpoints of women and mothers.
Merilyn has worked as a psychiatric nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital and as a medical/surgical nurse at Memorial Hospital. She now works as a geriatric social worker with a strong interest in hoarding disorders among the elderly. She also co-founded the Perinatal and Neonatal Grief Support Group at Memorial Hospital, which has provided counseling and community for those who have lost young ones.
In the eyes of her friends, Merilyn is known to be humble and selfless, always putting the needs of others first. Her devotion to her sons and her granddaughter, Harper Rose, is apparent. She has a passionate approach to life, even the little things. As a social worker, she defines the word advocate, fighting tirelessly for her clients and researching all aspects of situations to ensure successful outcomes. She can make inroads where others might not. Her analytical mind deals not with problems but solutions. She is able to accomplish so much by having a wonderful balance in her life with a love of nature and the spiritual world.
The Lady Pioneers
Merilyn Bambauer, Rosemarie Ermilio, Kathryn Fox and Maryjane Walsh, the first four women to serve on Saint John’s Board of Trustees, represent the quintessential embodiment of grace, passion, savvy and dedication.
Former Headmaster Bro. J. Conal Owens greatly admired the formidable foursome who impressed him with their professionalism, tireless work ethic and character. He jokes that his appointment of Lady Pioneers to the Board of Trustees finally allowed talented women in the Saint John’s community to “break the glass ceiling and enter Saint John’s longstanding ‘boys’ club.’”
The pioneering efforts of these four dynamic women transformed Saint John’s former Mothers’ Guild into a Parents’ Council and ultimately the Parents’ Association of today. Brother Conal appointed them to Saint John’s Centennial Fund Capital Campaign Cabinet in 1994, and they were instrumental in staging Saint John’s historic Inaugural Centennial Celebration held at Worcester Memorial Auditorium on September 11, 1994. Over 900 guests attended this signature event; the campaign eventually raised $6 million, allowing substantive renovations to Conal Hall, construction of the state-of-the-art Ryken Center, and funding for Saint John’s endowment.
Following the landmark success of the Centennial Fund, Brother Conal appointed the four Lady Pioneers to Saint John’s Board of Trustees. Rosemarie, Kathy and Maryjane were appointed to three-year terms in 1996. Sadly, Rosemarie did not complete her term, losing a courageous battle with breast cancer in 1998. Kathy and Maryjane served three consecutive terms, completing their service in 2005. Merilyn served on the board from 1997 through 2000.
Lady Pioneers Merilyn Bambauer, Rosemarie Ermilio, Kathy Fox and Maryjane Walsh each left her own indelible mark on Saint John’s High School. Their legacy of wisdom, insight and dedicated service inspire those who follow in their footsteps as Pioneers in the new millennium.
From the “Celebrating Our Pioneer Spirit” Gala Program Book, 2011.