Heart Endowment Established In Memory Of Hadley resident

NORTHAMPTON – When chronic lung disease forced her to get rid of her bountiful flower garden, Marjorie Merchant gave her most-prized perennials – an assortment of Peonies – to her nurses at Cooley Dickinson’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation department. Since Marjorie’s death three years ago, those Peonies – fragrant, early summer bloomers – have reminded Kathleen Bowers of Marjorie’s zest for life. Now, Bowers has another reason to remember her long-time patient.
Several months ago, Cooley Dickinson Hospital received a $31,445.00 donation from the estate of Marjorie Merchant, formerly of Hadley. Hearing the news of the donation, Bowers, one of Merchant’s cardiac nurses, was surprised: “Marjorie never indicated she was going to leave [the department] anything.”


Bowers first met Merchant in 1995 when she visited Cooley Dickinson Hospital for outpatient pulmonary treatment. At that time, at the suggestion of her physician, Merchant started outpatient treatment coming to the CDH Cardiopulmonary Rehab department three times a week for one hour.

When people come in for treatment, you really get to know them,” Bowers said. Conversations, she recalls, focused on the children of the staff who took care of Marjorie as well as our hobbies and life in general. “She was like an extended member of our family. She never married or had children so she liked to hear about our kids. She enjoyed a healthy debate and loved to engage people in conversation, especially the other patients.”

Merchant’s generous contribution has already been put to good use. A portion of the money was used to add a non-impact, aerobic exercise machine called a Nu-Step to the department. The rest of the money will be used to start an endowment – a dedicated fund in Marjorie Merchant’s name – that will provide funds in perpetuity to benefit the hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation department.

Merchant had donated previously. In 2000, Marjorie gave $1000 toward the purchase of an upper-body Ergometer, another non-impact aerobic machine. “Marjorie was a very interesting and kind person,” said Bowers. “Her generosity will continue to help others who are recovering from heart attacks and other cardiac problems.”

Merchant taught home economics from September 1957 to August 1988 in what is now the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at UMass, Amherst. She also worked as a consultant to the university’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Cardiac rehabilitation services are available for anyone living with a heart condition, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. A physician referral is required. Caring for Your Heart, free monthly education and support groups are offered monthly on the second Thursday. For more information, call (413) 582-2404.

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