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Remembering Meri Goyette

By Staff | Jul 31, 2021

She was known as the person to whom the well-worn phrase “just say no” did not apply.

No matter the nature of Meri Goyette’s latest project, crusade, or idea – even the occasional “out there” idea seemingly based on a premonition – anyone who listened and heard her out soon found themselves immersed in bringing yet another Meri Goyette brainstorm to fruition.

Born Mary Zanleoni 95 years ago in Barre, Vermont, she was a teenager when she decided to legally change her name to “Meri,” a move that would portend the non conformist spirit that guided a long, eventful lifestyle defined by spontaneous whims – and a deep love for art and the artists she befriended by the dozen whether she met them in Nashua, Boston or halfway around the world.

With Meri Goyette’s passing early in the morning a week ago Friday, Nashua lost one of its staunchest community advocates, a void that will be most painful to members of the local and regional arts community.

As we join Meri’s large, extended family and the countless friends she leaves behind in mourning the loss of a true community treasure, we here at The Telegraph feel a sense of pride, and gratitude, that Meri chose our front lobby as the venue for the exhibit that represented her first foray into the creative side of the arts world.

The exhibit, “Geometric Abstraction through Cut and Paste,” was installed by Meri’s friends at City Arts Nashua, one of whom observed at the time that until then, “Meri didn’t make art. She made art happen.”

Indeed, Meri immersed herself in “making art happen” beginning in the early 1960s, shortly after she and her late husband, Dr. Charles Goyette, settled in Nashua, where he would open his practice.

Meri was among the early movers-and-shakers in the founding and growth of the original Arts and Science Center, which has undergone various name changes over the years.

Blessed with a sense of humor that saw her through difficult times, Meri was known among family and friends as a jokster, and an occasional prankster, who laughed just as much at being the subject of a prank as she did when successfully “pranking” somone else.

Among the countless times Meri made the local news for one reason or another was the active role she played in protesting the sale of the former Chandler Memorial Library, fearing that if the city sold it rather than returning it to Mabel Chandler’s descendants, as they felt the city was obligated to do, the Main Street mansion would end up being torn down.

Meri showed up at one protest dressed in an all-black “mourning” suit. A replica plywood “coffin” was rolled in, and without hesitation, Meri walked over and lay down in the “coffin” to symbolize “the death” of the former library.

Sculptor John Weidman, who founded the Andres Institute for the Arts in Brookline and co-founded, with Meri, the Nashua International Sculpture Symposium, said he spoke with Meri regularly and continues to think of her.

“Thinking about Meri is like breathing. It’s easy,” Weidman said.

Added longtime friend Cecilia Ulibarri, “you can’t mention Nashua without mentioning Meri Goyette.”


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