Merilyn (Meri) Kennedy, 59, of Cranston, passed away peacefully on Sept. 1 with her longtime companion, Stephen F. Popiel, at her side.
Born in Warwick, Meri was a daughter of the late Mitchell and Jean (Krasnow) Geller. She graduated from Cranston East in 1981 and received her Bachelor's Degree in English from Rhode Island College; she enjoyed writing and served as a reporter for the Warwick Beacon, Cranston Herald and Johnston Sun Rise.
Meri wrote a column titled “My Final Deadline” back in May for the paper when she entered hospice. She thanked her readers, followers and community for sharing their achievements with her over the past 28 years – everything from Eagle Scout ceremonies to fundraisers. In her column, Meri spoke of loving Cranston all her life as well as her careers. She added that despite so many challenges, she met most of her goals and was blessed with good friends and support.
Meri always prided herself on never missing a deadline for the paper – even when she had breast cancer. After publishing the column and posting on Facebook that she had entered hospice, Meri received hundreds of comments – everything from childhood friends bringing up old memories to phone calls from people she’d impacted during her lifetime.
While also being a reporter, Meri served as the Executive Director of the Cranston Chamber of Commerce from 1985 to 1995 . She was inducted into the Cranston Hall of Fame in 2019.
John Howell, publisher of the Herald, Beacon and Sun Rise, introduced Meri at her Cranston Hall of Fame induction night – and presented her and Steve with Cranston Herald jackets.
Howell remembered some unusual editorial pitches from Meri – including a “man on the street” style piece done while dressed in a Peeps candy costume – that, despite his skepticism, ultimately ended up being successful and resonated with the community.
“As Meri will tell you, she loves being the bearer of good news … It’s the stories that people clip out from the pages of the paper and clip proudly to their refrigerators that she gravitates to,” said Howell at the ceremony.
At the event, Meri said she was “proud to say I’ve dedicated my life to our community.”
“I get to tell your stories, celebrate your victories, and at times share your sorrows … I’m not perfect by any means, but I always strive to do my best. And to think that you appreciate my efforts means everything to me,” said Meri.
Meri was a breast cancer survivor and also wrote a book, “My Enemy, Myself,” about her journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and has served as a volunteer and mentor for various organizations and schools, including the Community Emergency Response Team, the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, Pilgrim High School and Eden Park Elementary School.
Besides her companion, she leaves her daughter, Jennifer R. Rawson and her husband Christopher of Whitinsville, MA; two granddaughters, Maddison and Amelia Rawson; a sister, Lorri Perry and her husband Carl of Manassas, VA; a brother, Arnold Geller and his wife Maureen of Warwick; and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Meri’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Defenders of Animals, P.O. Box 5634 Weybosset Hill Station, Providence, RI 02903-0634.
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