From WGBH QuickNooz (by permission) — 11/16/2007

Sad news for longtime ’GBHers

Pauline Mercer died Sunday, November 11, 2007, at age 89, after an extended illness.

Pauline began her career at ’GBH soon after our 1955 TV debut, first in a volunteer capacity and later as a staff producer (Elliot Norton Reviews) and administrator (Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery!), retiring in 1993.

WGBH aimed at excellence through television. It was excellent people like Pauline Mercer who made that vision work.

In addition to her nearly 40 years of enthusiastic and committed service, she was a generous supporter, along with her late husband, Douglas, an attorney at Ropes & Gray who was involved in early discussions leading to the creation of WGBH-TV and served as WGBH counsel until 1970.

“WGBH was a big part of Pauline’s life, and she was a huge part of ours,” says Vice Chair Henry Becton. “She was smart, energetic, and with every feisty fiber of her being an advocate for WGBH and the power of public broadcasting. All of us at ’GBH today stand on the shoulders of dedicated early believers like Pauline and Doug.”

Watch QuickNooz for details about a memorial service. Memories of Pauline may be sent to the WGBH alumni Web site.

From Cynthia Broner — 11/19/2007

The memorial service for Pauline Mercer will be held Saturday, December 1 at 11:30am at St. Andrew’s Church in Wellesley (79 Denton Road, corner of Denton and Washington Street, which is Route 16).  There will be a reception afterwards at Northeastern University’s Henderson House in Weston, MA.

From the Boston Globe — 11/30/2007

Pauline Mercer, 89; worked on ‘Masterpiece Theatre’

She once played golf with Francis Ouimet, the winner of the 1913 US Open, at The Country Club in Brookline. During her youth, she and her father camped with Leon Leonwood Bean, founder of L.L. Bean. When the Cold War started in the late 1960s, she decided to learn Russian to help translate, if needed. And when many women only dreamed of a career, she pursued one at WGBH-TV in Boston.

Pauline (Tobey) Mercer was “a Renaissance woman,” said her son Walter of Newton. “Her life was one of trying new things and learning.”

Mrs. Mercer, of Weston, died Nov. 11 at her home from a degenerative neurological disorder. She was 89.

She started work at WGBH in 1955, during the television station’s infancy, as a volunteer, and eventually became a full-time employee.

Mrs. Mercer was a staff producer for the “Elliot Norton Reviews,” a drama review talk show. She also worked as a unit manager for the popular “Masterpiece Theatre” series and “Mystery!” She worked at WGBH until her retirement in 1993.

“WGBH was a big part of Pauline’s life, and she was a huge part of ours,” said Henry Becton Jr., vice chairman of WGBH’s board of trustees. “She was smart, energetic, and with every feisty fiber of her being an advocate for WGBH and the power of public broadcasting.”

On the WGBH Alumni website, a colleague remembers Mrs. Mercer as a staple at the station.

“Pauline was one of those smart, competent, positive people who made WGBH tick, was one of its unapologetic advocates, and clearly and energetically believed in what it was doing,” wrote the colleague, John Kerr. “She lent her skills and competence to us, and her presence within the station’s walls made things better.”

Mrs. Mercer was born in Boston in 1918 to Dr. George L. and Pauline (Flanders) Tobey and graduated from the Winsor School in 1937. She earned a degree in French from Vassar College in 1942, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.

Beginning in her teens, she developed into a champion golfer and played the remainder of her life.

“She did well to raise four boys. . . . I’m sure we were a handful,” said her son George of Newton. “She was able to maintain discipline in the direst of circumstances.”

Mrs. Mercer married Douglas Mercer of Brookline in 1942. Mercer, a senior partner at the law firm of Ropes & Gray, died in 1997.

In addition to her two sons, Mrs. Mercer leaves two other sons, C. Douglas of New York and Sam of Venice, Calif.; eight grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

A service will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow in St. Andrew’s Church in Wellesley.

3 Comments

  1. David Atwood on November 15, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Pauline and I were discussing smoking, in the 80’s, I think. I was still smoking at the time, so I remarked that I needed to give it up just like she had done.

    With that sly smile and wonderful New England wit, she replied that she had not given it up at all, she was just taking a break. She would resume again when she was 80. I wonder if she even did.

  2. Michael Ambrosino on November 15, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Pauline was the delightful wife of Doug Mercer, our lawyer at Ropes Gray, in the 40s and 50s, well before the days of house counsel. They both would show up at all the functions and were certainly sold on the WGBH mission.

  3. John Kerr on November 15, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    Pauline Mercer always used to call me “Moneybags.” Her consistently-upbeat greetings always made me smile. “Hello there, Moneybags,” she’d say, as we’d pass along a hallway or meet in the studio, “I hope you’re having a good day.” I always knew that she meant it. Not just as a humorous greeting, but because she knew very well how directly WGBH depended on successfully attracting contributions from its viewers and donors.

    Pauline was one of those smart, competent, positive people who made WGBH tick, was one of its unapologetic advocates, and clearly and energetically believed in what it was doing. She lent her skills and competence to us, and her presence within the station’s walls made things better. She understood very clearly the contribution that Masterpiece Theatre made to its viewers, she understood and appreciated good literature, and she put her shoulder to presenting the best of it on WGBH. People like Pauline were one of the reasons that it was such fun to work at WGBH.

    She was one of a vital cadre of dedicated, educated staff and volunteers who gave life, vitality, and positive energy to the WGBH vision and purpose. WGBH aimed at excellence through television. It was excellent people like Pauline Mercer who made that vision work.

    Whatever new studios and buildings are built, whatever new programs and services WGBH provides, the foundation of excellence they stand upon was built by hundreds of people like Pauline. Unselfish, energetic, articulate, dedicated, involved, caring people — serving over the years as staff, volunteers, creators of programs, and as advocates.

    It is hard to imagine Pauline being ill and bedridden. The Pauline I knew was a live-wire. Thank goodness for people like her — they are wound into the bedrock of WGBH. They will always be part of its future, as well as its distinguished, pace-setting past.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.