Obituary: Bentley Atwood Howe Merrick, DMD | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Bentley Atwood Howe Merrick, DMD 

A proud dentist’s greatest joy in life was being a father to his daughters

Published July 11, 2022 at 6:05 a.m. | Updated July 12, 2022 at 4:02 p.m.

click to enlarge Dr. Ben Merrick - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Dr. Ben Merrick

Bentley “Ben” Atwood Howe Merrick, beloved father, husband, son, brother, friend and dentist, passed away on July 2, 2022, in Burlington, Vt., after experiencing a sudden cardiac event. He was 61.

Ben was born in Morristown, N.J., and raised in nearby Chatham, the oldest of three children of Betty and Ben Merrick. His childhood was filled with family time, during which he learned to love swimming and tennis. Through the Boy Scouts, he developed a lifelong passion for camping. Additionally, he spent time in his father’s home office dental practice, where his love for dentistry first began.

Ben attended Middlebury College, where he met the love of his life, Susie, in 1979, when they were both freshmen. They were married in 1984. Ben graduated from Middlebury in 1983 and continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, following in his father’s footsteps. After graduating first in his class from Penn in 1988, he worked in his father’s Chatham, N.J., dental practice for four years, an experience that they both treasured and one that allowed Ben to recognize his love of prosthetic dentistry. He pursued further training in this specialty at New York University College of Dentistry's Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics, graduating in 1993.

Upon graduation, Ben and Susie moved to Vermont, where Ben opened his own prosthodontics practice and was warmly welcomed into the Vermont dental community. Ben’s skills as a prosthodontist and his genuine care for patients quickly became known, and his South Burlington practice — Vermont Prosthodontics — grew over the years to help many. Always very humble, Ben valued his patients, his staff and his Vermont dental community. His love of practicing dentistry led him to become a clinical instructor at the University of Vermont Medical Center General Dental Practice Residency in 1997. He found tremendous meaning in working with the next generation of dentists, including his daughter Katie, who was part of the 2021-22 dental residency program. Ben was a lifelong learner and was proud to be a member of numerous professional dental organizations.

click to enlarge Ben Merrick - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Ben Merrick

Without question, Ben was a family man, and his greatest joy in life was being a father to his daughters, Katie and Janie. He was a truly wonderful dad. He introduced his girls at a young age to camping, hiking, kayaking, biking, and skiing and established a tradition of taking each of them on an annual father-daughter camping trip in his beloved Adirondacks, often with another friend and their father. Ben took tremendous delight in his daughters’ interests and became the No. 1 supporter of their activities. He was a father who recognized how much he had to learn from his daughters. As Janie and Katie grew older, it was not uncommon to find them in conversation with their dad on topics ranging from dentistry to civil rights to camping recipes to feminism to cats. Ben cared deeply about these opportunities to spend time with his family, especially over takeout from Papa Frank’s.

Ben is survived by his wife of 38 years, Susie; his children, Katie and Janie; his parents, Betty and Ben Merrick, of Essex Junction; his siblings, Jenny Vecchio (Gerard) of Tolland, Conn., and Charles Merrick (Kathleen) of Essex Junction; his parents-in-law, Bud and Judy Rose, of Red Bank, N.J.; his nieces, Sabine Vecchio Baldwin (Andy) and Lexy Vecchio; numerous much-loved sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins; and his beloved kitty, Pepper.

The family hopes to invite family and friends to gather as a community in the autumn, Ben’s favorite season, to share stories and memories. Further information will follow.

If you are interested in making a tribute in Ben’s memory, our family invites you to consider becoming an organ donor, donating to the Adirondack Land Trust (adirondacklandtrust.org) or taking a walk in the woods, if you can, and to remember Ben.

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