Senior Active: Dr. Ezra Merritt - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Senior Active: Dr. Ezra Merritt

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Dr. Ezra Merritt Dr. Ezra Merritt
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The support many young people are receiving in Savannah today can be traced back to 1963, when Ezra Merritt was taking the Georgia State Dental Boards.

"There must have been a couple hundred people taking the state boards with me,'' said Dr. Merritt. "There were four African Americans.  They put us in the basement. We had to take our patients to the basement to do our work.''

The memory of such difficulties is what has inspired the now retired Dr. Merritt to spend nearly a decade helping Savannah youth face the challenges they face.

For five years, he was chairman of the First Tee of Savannah board of directors, helping teach both golf and life lessons.

"We have nine core values that we try to instill in a seamless way,'' says Dr. Merritt. "We don't tell them, ok, now we're going to talk about honesty, but we point it out when it happens.''

He has also been very active and will serve on the soon to be appointed board for Young Men of Honor, a youth mentoring group at Spencer Elementary School spearheaded by Diane Jackson.

"I was absolutely taken with Mrs. Jackson,'' said Dr. Merritt. "Once you meet her, it's all over. You can't help but involve yourself with those kids, especially when they say that motto. The hairs just stand up on your head.''

Dr. Merrit is also on the administrative board at the New Covenant United Methodist Church and the neighborhood association at his Southbridge condo complex

"My assignment,'' he says, "is elevators. That's one of my assignments.''

And he still plays golf about three times a week, trying his best to even up the 50-year running rivalry he has had with his older brother.

"I did him like Sugar Ray Leonard did Marvin Hagler,'' said Merritt. "They asked him ‘when are you going to fight Hagler?' And he said, ‘when he gets older.'"

But while still physically active, Dr. Merritt's active involvement in youth groups has perhaps an even greater influence on his life,  and certainly on the lives of others, preserving the futures he has seen thrown away too often in the past.

"At first I tried to do some intervention with those young people who had already gotten involved with the criminal justice system. And that was just frustrating, totally frustrating,'' says Dr. Merritt. "Because once they get a felony, you almost can't help them. So then I started to get involved with younger groups. We invest time and money and energy in each one of them.''

And every organization Dr. Merritt is involved with is better for the investment he has made.

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