Chou Chou Merrill hadn’t lived in Westport for decades. But today, countless Westporters mourn her death.
The Staples Class of 1970 grad died suddenly in her sleep Saturday night. She was 62 years old.
Thanks to Facebook, thousands of people knew and loved Chou Chou. She created, administered or was an avid contributor to a variety of online communities: “You Know You’re from Westport, CT If …” “Exit 18 – Westport CT Residents and Ex-Residents.” “Save Westport CT From Itself!”
Not long ago, she founded another group: “Westport CT Artists and Craftsmen.” It was a site for local creative folks to display their works.
That was no casual interest. Her father, Jason Raum, owned an operated “Jewels by Jason” on Main Street for many years. It was upstairs in the handsome stone building next to what is now Tavern on Main, across from Oscar’s.
That Westport connection meant a lot to Chou Chou. So did many other connections. She reveled in her childhood and youth here — the memories she shared, the friendships she nurtured, the opportunities she was given.
Her mother-in-law was Bette Davis. She seldom mentioned it. But not long ago, without saying whose it was, she posted a photo of the actress’ home on Crooked Mile Road. Chou Chou admired it not because of who owned it, but because of how lovely it looked.
As a board member of the Bette Davis Foundation, Chou Chou awarded scholarships to aspiring actors, and other talented students in the entertainment industry.
Chou Chou made her mark on her adopted hometown — Brookline, Massachusetts — too. She was a successful real estate broker there, and served on the Town Meeting (the equivalent of our RTM) for over 25 years. She was past co-president of the League of Women Voters Brookline, a member of the Flag Day Parade committee, and a contributor to Little League, the Senior Center, Library and Brookline Community Fund.
Today, many Facebook pages are filled with tributes to Chou Chou. Geoffrey Glaser wrote: “She inspired so much thought with her postings…. She was the glue that held Old Westport together…. She created conversation that introduced us to new friends and reintroduced us to old friends.”
Thanks to Chou Chou Merrill, Westport lives on in words and pictures. Thanks to Facebook — and her thousands of friends and admirers — she will continue to live too.