In Memoriam: Marjorie Darrah, doll authority and museum curator
DOUGLASSVILLE, Pa. – Doll expert Marjorie Esther (Merritt) Darrah, of Douglassville, Pa., died of natural causes on Aug. 29, 2009. She was 81 years of age.
For 42 years, Mrs. Darrah was curator of the world-renowned Mary Merritt Doll & Toy Museum in Douglassville, whose contents were sold in a series of high-profile auctions in 2006 and 2007 Additionally, Marjorie Darrah was president of Merritt’s Antiques Inc., also located in Douglassville.
Mrs. Darrah was a lifelong resident of Berks County, Pa., and was a daughter of the late Esther M. Riegel and Robert J. Merritt.
She was a past board member of the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County, a past president of the Letitia Penn Doll Club and a lifelong member of the Amity Fire Company. Mrs. Darrah also belonged to St. Paul’s United Christian Church in Amityville, Pennsylvania.
“Marjorie was a delight to be around,” said Auction Central News’ editor, Catherine Saunders-Watson. “Her enthusiasm for antiques remained strong throughout her life. Two years ago I was helping out at the annual yard sale to benefit a local animal shelter and had brought along a few antiques as ‘sweeteners’ to mix in amongst the more mundane items heaped onto the tables. One of the first ‘early birds’ to arrive was Marjorie, and with that keen eye of hers, she zeroed right in on the antiques, scooping them up while everyone else was still sifting through the dime-a-dozen junk. She seemed thrilled with her discoveries, as though they were the first antiques she ever bought.”
Auctioneer and antique toy and doll expert Andy Ourant worked closely with Marjorie Darrah during the 16-month cataloging period prior to the Mary Merritt Doll & Toy Museum sales. “By the end of it, I was calling her ‘Mom.’ She had a special quality about her. Yes, she was a pillar of the industry and was a natural at running a business, but above all else, you got that family vibe off her. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said the same thing – that they felt very close to Marge. She treated everyone like family. She was a rare individual, and we will miss her.”
Marjorie Darrah is survived by a son, Paul L. Darrah Jr.; a daughter, Marjorie Anne Yocom; brothers Martin Merritt and Robert J. Merritt Jr., and a stepsister, Anne Darrah. She also leaves four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held on Sept. 5, 2009. Memorial contributions may be made to the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County, P.O. Box 245, Douglassville, PA 19518.
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