Sullivan & Cromwell Mourns the Passing of Our Former Chairman John Merow and His Wife

January 12, 2019

The lawyers and staff of Sullivan & Cromwell are deeply saddened by the tragic death of John E. Merow, 89, our former partner and past chairman of the Firm, and his wife Mary Alyce, 85, in a fire at their New York City home on January 12, 2019. In his six decades of association with the Firm, John was a beloved colleague, a trusted counselor to his clients, a business and industry leader and an inspiration to all who knew him.
When asked in an interview about mentors who had inspired him, our current chairman, Joe Shenker, named John, saying that he had “an unerring ability to cut quickly to the heart of the matter with terrific business sense.” Clients that included a “Who's Who” of multinational corporations and major financial institutions agreed, seeking John's counsel over the years for their most important strategic and legal issues.
In a recent interview, senior chairman Rodge Cohen described John as among the “extraordinarily skillful lawyers who thought about the law as a noble calling, and not just as a business or a profession.” John was a visionary who led the Firm through a challenging time of international expansion that included the opening of our offices in Australia and Japan. He was also an exemplar of diversity and inclusion at the Firm, always focused on what truly mattered—an individual's merits and character. We continue to be inspired by his vision of excellence and inclusiveness.
Beyond his distinguished legal career, John served as senior managing director of Brock Capital Group. He was also an experienced director for corporations that included Aleris International and its predecessor Commonwealth Industries; the 23 investment companies in the Seligman group; Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation; and affiliates of Rio Tinto.
John was a longtime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a board member of the Municipal Art Society of New York.  He was a trustee and vice chairman of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare system and for years served as a trustee of various of the entities within the New York-Presbyterian Hospital system.  He also served for years as senior warden of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, chairman of the American Australian Association, a director and secretary of the United States Council for International Business, a director of the Metropolitan Opera Club, the Foreign Policy Association and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Anglican Communion Fund.
He also served his country as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1958 and set a stellar example of public service that we endeavor to live up to. 

All of us were blessed to know John and to have experienced his warmth and wit through the many phases of his career here, from associate to partner to chairman to senior counsel. John was and always will be a cherished member of the S&C family. Our hearts go out to the Merow family and we share this loss with all who knew and loved him.

Read The New York Times obituary here