June 19, 1924 – June 1, 2017
Dr. Winifred G. Mernan wanted to be something more than a stay-at-home mother.
In an era of limited career opportunities for women, she took a radical step and enrolled in the University of Buffalo in the late 1940s. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa honor society, earned a bachelor’s degree in 1951 and went on to study in the UB School of Medicine. When she graduated in 1955, she was one of only four women in her class.
She died June 1 in Canterbury Woods, Amherst, where she had become one of the first residents in 1999. She was 92.
After completing her residency in general practice in 1957, Dr, Mernan established a medical practice and for many years had an office in her home on Chapin Parkway. She was affiliated with the former Millard Fillmore Hospital and Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
She served as an Erie County school physician and, in 1963, she became a part-time college physician at Buffalo State’s Weigel Health Center. Four years later, she was named senior physician.
She closed her private practice when she was appointed the college’s director of student health services in 1977. She retired in 1992.
She was a member of the Erie County, New York State and American Medical Societies.
Born in Buffalo, the former Winifred Gervan was a graduate of Riverside High School and earned her undergraduate degree at UB.
Her marriages to Gary Merkle and Dr. John P. Mernan, a surgeon and son of the founder of Mernan Chevrolet, ended in divorce.
The mother of four, she was predeceased by a son, John W., who died in 2005, and a daughter, Dixie Lynn Connelly, who died in 2006.
Known for her lively personality and sense of humor, she enjoyed tennis, bridge and following Buffalo sports teams.
Survivors include two sons, Jonathan S. Merkle and Kevin B.; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held in August.