1926-2017

An elegant, classy, talented lady.

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This photo is from May 2013 when Harriet was honored at the 16th Annual Diva Impresario Awards Luncheon, Florida Grand Opera. I had the good fortune of being able to join her for this wonderful day of celebration.

Harriet Gould Mertz of Pompano Beach FL passed from this life on May 9, 2017, at age 91. Mrs. Mertz was born February 6, 1926, one of four children of Wilmont and Anna Bailey Gould. She attended Southmont High School and graduated in 1944. She enrolled at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove PA as a music education major on an academic scholarship. At college, she was listed in "Who's Who In American Colleges and Universities," and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in 1948.

In 1949, she married her college sweetheart John and moved to South Florida where she contributed greatly to cultural activities in Miami. She began singing professionally by giving concerts at hotels, churches, temples, country clubs and universities. Her Master's Degree in Music Education was earned at the University of Miami at Coral Gables in 1961. In addition, she was awarded and Education Specialist Degree in Communications, Curriculum Studies, and Television Production from Vanderbilt University in Nashville TN in 1968, and a Master's Degree in Library Science from Columbia MS. Additional education included Certification of Study from Kyoto University in Japan, and Chenchi University in Taiwan, postgraduate work in Administration and Supervision at Florida Atlantic University, the University of Missouri, and advanced television and film production at Redwood City CA. Her professional affiliations included Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women (was awarded the Sword of Honor), Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Women Teachers, Alpha Psi Omega National Thespians, National Association for Teachers of Singing, Florida Association of Music Educators, Women in Communications and PEO Chapter. Other achievements included the authoring of a filmstrip series, "Introduction to Music;" creating her own television series "Magic Music" for TV Channels 2 & 17 in Miami; teaching conversational English at a boys' vocational school in Japan; serving as a member of evaluation committees for Median Centers, colleges, and universities; conducting leadership training programs for the Departments of Education in Nova Scotia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida; and drafting Student Performance Standards in Television Production for the State of Florida. With many years of service in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Mrs. Mertz was the Television and Audiovisual Media Specialist/Coordinator at South Miami Senior High and an Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Miami, Florida Atlantic, and Palm Beach Atlantic. At one time, she held the position as President of the School of Music Alumni Association at the University of Miami.

In the 1960's, Harriet had her own studio in Miami where she had an Electronic Media School and instituted the first studio production for Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio. In the same decade, she won a contest sponsored by the Miami Herald for "Best Dressed Career Woman." In the 1970's, she became a personal friend of Jerry Herman, composer of "Hello Dolly." In 1975, she produced a fundraiser with Mr. Herman at the new Gusman Concert Hall on the University of Miami Campus. The event raised enough money to refurbish the University of Miami School of Music. At one event, Mr. Herman requested that she sing a medley of his songs while he accompanied her on the piano. This was one of the highlights of her life. She also was in charge of workshops on Music Education and Vocal Productions for the Music Educators National Conference in Philadelphia.

In 2007, with her husband, she moved to John Knox Village, a life plan community, in Pompano Beach FL. She immediately became involved with many volunteer activities, including director of the Village Women's Chorus plus serving the Health Center, the Chapel, and Assisted Living Center.

She is survived by her brother James Gould and her sisters Nancy G. Baldwin and Wilma Jean Davis. Interment will be held at the Woodlawn Mausoleum in Miami with a celebration of life memorial service to be held at the John Knox Village auditorium at a later date. As expressions of sympathy, donations to John Knox Village Foundation Employee Scholarship Fund would be greatly appreciated, and should be sent to John Knox Accounting Department, 651 SW 6th St., Pompano Beach FL 33060.

May 7, 2017
Harriet is surrounded by some of the very capable medical folks at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, FL. (The photo was sent to us by Harriet's friend Willie who has been very kind in keeping us continually updated. Thank you, Willie!)

April 2011
Harriet is awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Susquehanna University of Pennsylvania. She was absolutely thrilled to be so honored. Can't ya tell?! :-)

2003
Harriet's loving husband John.

I took this photo on the balcony of their Bal Harbour FL condo.

John passed from this life in 2008 at age 87.

Harriet Mertz MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Adapted from an article by Phyllis J. Neuberger, The Pelican, Pompano Beach, FL (December 24, 2010)

They call Harriet Mertz "The Diva" because she takes center stage with her music, drama and show business sparkle. Harriet Mertz is a music director, professional voice instructor, singer, pianist, and actress. When she sweeps into a room and bursts into song, it's easy to see why she's known by show business pals as "Jerry Herman's Auntie Mame."

Mertz arrived at John Knox Village (JKV) in 2007 with her beloved husband John who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Having been his sole caretaker for 11 years, she reluctantly turned over John's care to The Village Glen (JKV's memory loss center), but she spent many hours every day entertaining there. "John sat in his wheelchair, smiling and blowing kisses to me, even though I'm not sure he knew I was the love of his life," she says. "It was amazing to me how much the other residents enjoyed my singing and piano. Many never spoke, but they sang and hummed along with me, and even tapped their feet, keeping the beat."

When John passed away in 2008, Mertz became the volunteer music director of The Village Chorus, a group of 35 women who love to sing, have fun and entertain. The group, renamed The Note-ables, rehearse every week, coming for what they call their "fix." Note-ables They perform in concert twice a month in the Village and they take their talents on the road by invitation. Just this year they have traveled by bus, bringing their sounds of music to Christ Methodist Church, Temple Beth-El in Boca, First Christian Church in Wilton Manors, National Federation Music Club of the Palm Beaches, North Broward Citizen's Club and more.

Watch The Note-ables

"I feel we are marketing tool for JKV every time we make an appearance," Mertz smiles. "After all we are just one example of the fun activities and friendships enjoyed every day by residents of the Village. We are all volunteers and accept no payment. One church pastor pressed a $100 check into my hand and I donated it right back to his church choir. The pastor was delighted to be able to buy new music for his own group."

Do all the members of The Note-ables have good voices? Not at all, according to Mertz. "In fact," she says, "my three best singers didn't think they could sing at all. I teach voice physiologically because we are all individuals and no one sings exactly like another. I have had a long career teaching voice. Singing is just sound. Voice is controlling and focusing the sound. It's Bel canto which is singing on the vowels. My method of teaching voice shows how good tone quality is produced. It begin and ends with correct breathing which emanates from the diaphragm."

She continues, "I'm not too demanding of my Note-ables, but as a professional voice teacher, my standards are high. I still have students who are in the Master Choral of the Palm Beaches coming for lessons. I'm proud to say that three of my former voice students are on Broadway right now."

Mertz has a Master's Degree in Music Education from the University of Miami; an Education Specialist Degree in Communications from Vanderbilt University, and a degree in Library Science from Columbia University in Columbia, Mo. She was the television and audiovisual media specialist/coordinator in South Miami Senior High and has served as Adjunct professor for the University of Miami and Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has taught at Kyoto University of Japan and taken postgraduate work at Chenchi University in Taiwan. She's proud to have drafted Student Perfomance Standards for Television Production for the State of Florida.

Mertz has many stories about meeting and working with some famous show business personalities. She instituted the first studio production for Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emillio at her own Electronic Media School in Miami. Her eyes sparkle with excitement when she recalls doing a guest appearance with Minnie Pearl at the Grand Old Opera House. "My biggest thrill was producing "An Evening with Jerry Herman" in Miami prior to its Broadway opening. Through Jerry, I had the pleasure of meeting many talented stars. Andrea Mcardle was starring in Annie in Miami. She had a voice problem and I actually gave her a voice lesson over the phone. The second one was in person. I did the same with Mary Martin in Miami. Jerry Herman tops my list of favorite celebrities. We talk every few weeks. I'm getting a real kick out of the fact that he now lives on Sunset Boulevard in California."

Thank you, Harriet Mertz, for sharing your talents with the world around you.

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