We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Doolittle Funeral Home
Muriel “Merle” Ellen (Weeks) Test, of Middletown, CT, 89, passed away in Middletown, Connecticut on September 9th, 2022, after a long illness. She was predeceased by her son Eric Thomas Test, husband Captain Richard Z. Test, parents, Courtney “Chick” Weeks and Dorothy Weeks (nee Wilkinson), and sisters Constance “Connie” Nowak and Virginia “Ginger” Poole. She is survived by her daughters Gretchen Test (Tom Westcott), Abbie Test and Molly Test, and grandchildren Naomi Eberle (Maddy Eberle) and Eli Wrasman.
Merle was born April 29, 1933, in Catskill, New York, graduated from Cairo Central School, and worked as a bowling pin setter and soda jerk, before pursuing her career and starting a family. She married Richard Z. Test December 21, 1957, in Cairo, New York. She earned a nursing diploma from Vassar Brothers Hospital School of Nursing in 1953, a BS in Nursing from Russell Sage College in 1956, and an MS in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing from Yale University in 1958. As one of the first people in her family to attend college, she received full scholarships, including a National Institute of Mental Health scholarship which enabled her to attend Yale School of Nursing prior to admission of women as undergrads. As a way of giving back, she dedicated her life to helping women and people of color attain equal access to education. A lifelong learner, she returned to college several times to study philosophy, nursing, and history.
Her nursing career included working as a nurse at the Albany VA Hospital, as a private duty nurse, and as a visiting nurse and nursing instructor at Norwich State Hospital. She left nursing to become a professional parent and advocate for gender and racial equality.
Merle lived in over 20 states during her husband’s submarine career. A proudly nontraditional Navy spouse, she was an active member of NOW in the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, and helped lead a multi-faith campaign to create the first sex education curriculum in Alexandria, Virginia Public Schools in the 1970’s. She encouraged her daughters to pursue sports and education and fiercely advocated for Title IX enforcement in Alexandria and Middletown.
She served on the Middletown Board of Education (1989-1991), the Middletown NAACP Executive Committee and the Connecticut PTA Board of Directors. She received the Middletown NAACP President’s award in 2001.
Merle loved hosting endless visits from neighborhood kids, during which she might be seen playing Moonlight Sonata and Scott Joplin rags on the piano. She appreciated global art, culture, and food, taking her kids to cultural events and museums and collecting masks from all over the world. Merle never left the house without brightly colored lipstick, refused to be called a “lady” and never withheld honest feedback.
She enjoyed the occasional Higgies hot dog or McDonald’s fish filet but most of the time stuck to a strict health regimen that included daily trips to the gym up until two years ago. A voracious reader, she chose a country (Peru was the most recent), read every history book she could find about it, and then donated the trove to the library before steeping herself in the history of the next country. Merle dabbled in abstract art, theater, and dance, and kept the family tradition of quilting. Most of all she will be remembered as a tart, droll and enthusiastic conversationalist who fully engaged with everyone she met.
Per Merle's request, there will be no services held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are sent to Middlesex County NAACP Branch Unit 2018-B-Scholarship Fund (mail to P.O. Box 378, Middletown CT 06457) or Planned Parenthood (PlannedParenthood.org).
The family would like to thank the amazing and wonderful Sherroine Lewis, Assisted Living Services of Connecticut, Middlesex Palliative and Primary Care teams, and Dr. Nicole Weinreb and her team for their incredible care, kindness, and support. To share memories or send condolences to the family, please visit www.doolittlefuneralservice.com.